Arrival Day

Culture, Language, Race

From Jonathan Edelstein:

Welcome to the second annual Arrival Day Blogburst, commemorating the arrival of the first Jews in New Amsterdam on September 7, 1654. As I explained last year, Arrival Day is a holiday of the American Jewish people rather than the Jewish religion — a celebration of the Jewish community and its contributions to the United States. As such, non-Jews as well as Jews are welcome to join in the celebration. In the wise words of Ikram Saeed, everyone is Jewish today, just as everyone is Irish on St. Patrick’s Day.

Nothing symbolizes the New York/American Jewish heritage for me like the Marx Brothers. They grew up on the Upper East Side, next to Italian and German immigrants. It is very interesting to learn that while Chico kept his fake Italian accent he used so well for comic effect, Groucho had to drop the fake German accent he used early on in their Vaudeville routine:

after the sinking of the RMS Lusitania in 1915 public anti-German sentiment was widespread, and Groucho’s German” character was booed. He quickly dropped the accent and developed the fast-talking wise guy character he would make famous.

It is a shame that so much of German American culture disappeared with the two World Wars, including much that was both German and Jewish. Although some aspects of German-Jewish culture have definitely become part of America.