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Seeking a new life in a new land. This is the history of many families in Madison's Jewish community. The movement of Jewish immigrants to this country occurred in four stages basically and it's from the second group that the seeds of Madison's Jewish population were planted. Rabbi Manfred Swarzensky of Temple Beth El has studied that community and today he recounts its history. [rabbi] The Jewish community if you can call it the community. Sometimes I think the name is a little misnomer but anyway let's use it again actually with a coming to Madison of one single Jewish person by the name of Sam Clover who was a native of Bohemia. His wife came from Bavaria and he came first naturally to New York and then from New York he went to Lake Mills. And in 1851, for reasons I do not know. He settled here in Madison. Now
that time when Clover came, Madison believe it or not was a tiny village of twenty three hundred and so he was the first one to arrive here in Madison. I must say that Sam Klauber however was part of a larger wave of emigration from Europe specifically in Germany to come to this country. If I may go back for a minute. There were essentially three waves of Jewish immigrations to the United States. The very first Jews came in and around 1655. They were of Spanish origin from Spain, they had gone to Brazil and from Brazil they came very small in numbers to New Amsterdam to this country. Now the second wave so to speak came
between 1848 and 1888. There were about 200,000 Jews coming chiefly from Germany. But they were part not of a specifically Jewish immigration but rather of a general immigration of five million freedom loving Germans who came at that time to this country. Why did they leave the Germans and the German Jews with them? Because of the Abortive Revolution of 1848 which tried to inject a greater spirit of liberalism into the Monarchic feudal structure. The little revolt did not succeed and so five million Germans left the country and settled chiefly in the middle west of the United States. They are the descendants, still live to this day. And with him came as I said some
200,000 German Jews. Now Sam Klauber,whom I mentioned, is the first person to come to Madison was so to speak a part of this particular group of the second wave of immigration. The Klauber group was always very very small. We have some records about this. Their records go back to the fact that they founded here the first synagogue, the first temple in Madison and the temple had a capacity of one hundred and twenty five but they were never 125 individuals actually around. I would guess, nobody knows exactly that that group never exceeded more than 40 or 50 individuals. And then if I may briefly indicate this we can possibly talk about this later a
little more. There was a third much larger group of people coming between 1880 and 1910. They came not from Central but from Eastern Europe. And they came here because of the oppression by the Russians Czars. They became here in search of religious freedom political freedom and naturally also to better their economic situation they were utterly poor. And now if I may complete this picture perhaps is a fourth and very small, one cannot even really call it a wave but of immigrants that is about 50,000 who arrived in this country during and after the Hitler persecution. In other words these are the four streams of immigrant Jewish immigrants to come to this country. You spoke about several groups of German immigrants coming to this area. What sort of
relationship did they have amongst each other? Well I shall answer this question I will only add here. The third group of people to come to Madison came mainly from Eastern Europe and these lets me say this first chiefly in what was known or is known as Green Bush. Green Bush was then an area where Italian people, black people and Jewish immigrants lived in fact very harmoniously and they'd been their own synagogue incidentally because the people from Eastern Europe were more tradition minded than those who came from Central Europe. Those from Central Europe are more progressive, more liberal in their approach to religion and Judaism like other religion has a variety of religious denominations and expressions.
You ask me what was the relation between the two groups. Well in the beginning I hate to say it but that's the way it was they were not too friendly because they had different cultural and political backgrounds. But there was that common religious background. Yes there was a common religious background. I naturally am talking about the past now let's understand this. That's my idea. You know that we have had in Madison to this very day we have Catholic churches that are strictly German, Irish and Italian and they on the basis of their ethnic identity and the homeland they came from they segregated although they have the same religion. The same applies to other religious group the Lutherans the strongest group in our city where we have Norwegian Lutherans, Scandinavian ones, German Lutherans etc. They also didn't merge you know when they first founded
their congregation they were very very much segregated. Now I say this was just in the beginning this way because people huddled together with those who speak the same language there's [been a mystic?] difference between Jews too. Now there's three generations have already gone down the corridor of history. These things of course are forgotten now. What is the relationship of the Jewish community to the larger population? Nowadays whatever you mean by sense of communities nowadays these things of course have been forgotten. The children go to school here and the parents are going to school. And they're totally integrated number one, the Jewish people into the general community of which they are citizens and naturally as far as their religious loyalties are concerned. Ah, also it makes no longer a difference where the grandfather, the great grandfather came from
[inaudible] It's called prejudices but they are natural prejudices so to speak. More differences. They are already buried. How do Jewish people view themself with respect to the larger population? To the larger population? Well, as I indicated naturally they are citizens. They are as American as anybody else and their difference is if there is a difference is strictly on the basis of religion. Thank you very much Rabbi Swarzensky. Thank you.
Wisconsin Roots Too
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PBS Wisconsin (Madison, Wisconsin)
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Wisconsin Roots Too is a talk show featuring in-depth conversations with local Wisconsin residents about their cultural and family histories.
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Talk Show
Local Communities
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Wisconsin Public Television (WHA-TV)
Identifier: WPT1.53.T12 MA (Wisconsin Public Television)
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Chicago: “Wisconsin Roots Too; 112; Swarzensky,” 1980-02-27, PBS Wisconsin, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed July 13, 2024,
MLA: “Wisconsin Roots Too; 112; Swarzensky.” 1980-02-27. PBS Wisconsin, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. July 13, 2024. <>.
APA: Wisconsin Roots Too; 112; Swarzensky. Boston, MA: PBS Wisconsin, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from