What the Jewish Name Changing Narrative Gets Wrong

A Forgotten History of Antisemitic Exclusion and Isolation in Mid-20th Century New York

In 1932, a man named Max Greenberger petitioned the City Court of the City of New York to change his last name and the last name of two of his four children, to Greene.

Max Greenberger, a U.S.-born, middle-aged father, did not fit into any of the classic stereotypes of name-changers. He was not an immigrant coming through Ellis Island, he was not a young man seeking to escape his Old World roots, nor was he a movie star in need of a stage name. Instead, he was explicitly seeking …

Mitchell Duneier Explains the Invention of the Ghetto, as Place and as Idea

The Zócalo Book Prize Winner Discusses the Evolution of Ethnic Enclaves, from Renaissance Europe to the Modern U.S.

When sociologist Mitchell Duneier was growing up in the 1960s, he said, “references to the word ghetto were references in my house and in my segregated Jewish community on Long …

When L.A.’s Jews Went Crazy for Albert Einstein

In His Three Semesters at Caltech, the Famed Physicist Brought Together a Divided Community and Earned Their Undying Love

When Albert and Elsa Einstein first visited in January 1931, the Jews of Los Angeles were besotted.

A hundred women and men, representatives of almost every Jewish organization in the city, …

Camp Conformity

I Was Sent to Bond With My Fellow Jews. I Failed.

Last month, for the first time since I was 15, I returned to summer camp. Some friends were getting married and had rented out a YMCA in upstate New York …