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Jewish Immigration

At the beginning of the American Revolution, there were 2.5 million people in the colonies. Just about 1,000 of these were Jewish. During the 1880s and 1890s, Jews from Russia and southern and eastern Europe began to migrate to the United States in significant numbers. Most settled in major cities, such as New York, Chicago, and Boston. However, others became peddlers and preferred to venture into smaller communities across the country.

 


"This is How a Tailor Sews"

"This is How a Tailor Sews," from the recording entitled Yiddish Folksongs, Folkways FW 8720, provided courtesy of Smithsonian Folkways Recordings. © 1978 Used by permission.

This 19th century song began as a merry lilt among tailor apprentices. It continued to be popular into the 80s, when the struggle for the ten-hour day was going on. The final stanza sounds a warning to those who persist in working the 12-hour day:

Partial Yiddish Lyrics:
"…Ot azoy neyt a shnayder,
Ot azoy neyt a gut! (Repeated with a harmony)

Er neyt un neyt a gantse vokh
Fardint a gildn mit a lokh. (Repeated with harmony)

Ot azoy neyt a shnayder,
Ot azoy neyt a gut! (Repeated with a harmony)

A shnayder neyt un neyt un neyt,
Fardint kadokhes, nit kayn broyt! (Repeated with harmony

Ot azoy neyt a shnayder,
Ot azoy neyt a gut! (Repeated with a harmony)... "

Partial English Lyrics:
"… This is how the tailor stitches
This is how he sews so well! (Repeated with a harmony)

He sews and sews the whole week long,
And earns a guilder with a hole in the middle. (Repeated with a harmony)

This is how the tailor stitches
This is how he sews so well! (Repeated with a harmony)

A tailor sews and sews and sews
Ears the plague but not any bread! (Repeated with a harmony)

This is how the tailor stitches
This is how he sews so well! (Repeated with a harmony)…"

 

Related Images

Bainet Rudin's glass shop sign
Enlarge
Bainet Rudin's glass shop sign
For several decades of the early 1900s, Eastern European and Russian Jews dominated the garment industry of New York.
Enlarge
For several decades of the early 1900s, Eastern European and Russian Jews dominated the garment industry of New York.
Tailor's shears, pressing board for seams, buttonhole cutter, curved rule for making patterns, buttonhole scissors
Enlarge
Tailor's shears, pressing board for seams, buttonhole cutter, curved rule for making patterns, buttonhole scissors


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