Students will work with secondary sources to study individuals from the Jewish community of Philadelphia between the late-nineteenth and mid-twentieth centuries. Each of these people came from different backgrounds and developed diverse economic and social activities, yet still maintained their Jewish customs. Their skills, passions, and occupations brought positive contributions to Philadelphia as they gained recognition in the fields of medicine, religion, and social welfare.
This lesson uses the case-study method to explore the lives of Jacob da Silva Solis-Cohen (1838-1927), Joseph Paull (1892-1966), and Jean Gornish (1916-1981). In groups, students will read different types of sources –newspaper articles, music programs, and manuscripts- that contains biographical information about them. Students will identify their reasons to migrate, family background, religious affiliation, skills and occupation, as well as the contributions of these people to their communities. The students will also read excerpts from Barbara Klaczynska’s “Immigration in Philadelphia, 1870-1930” , and Harry Boonin’s “The Jewish Quarter of Philadelphia” that will provide them with a general overview of the Jewish-immigrant history in Philadelphia.
By exploring the lives of these individuals, the students will learn how Jewish immigrants and their descendants contributed to both the history of Philadelphia and the United States.
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