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Judaism Coming to America

Tefilah mi-Kol ha-Shanah Minhah Ketanah [Prayer for the Whole Year, a Small Offering]. Fürth: Verlag von S.B Gusdorfer; Druck von J. Sommer, 1860. NYPL, Dorot Jewish Division.

The title page of this miniature prayer book specifies its intended audience as “travelers crossing the sea to the nation of America.” Originally issued in 1842, it was reprinted in 1849, 1855, and 1860. The decreasing interval between the appearances of the editions testifies to the increasing popularity of America as a destination for Jewish immigration in the mid-19th century. Between 1840 and 1860, Jews from Central Europe migrated to the United States by the tens of thousands, fleeing political unrest, economic hardship, and religious persecution. During the same 20-year period, the American Jewish population grew from 15,000 to 150,000.

The title Minhah Ketanah [Small Offering] alludes to both the volume’s diminutive size and its popularity as a parting gift to travelers.

Library Catalog Record