Immigrants waiting to leave Ellis Island after being processed in the early 1900s

While the Judean focuses coverage only on Israel, this event is too significant to overlook as it had a profound impact on the world and is likely credited with saving the Jewish diaspora, a group that without their strong support, Israel would have had more of an uphill climb to survive, and ultimately thrive.

On January 1st, 1892, the first immigration services station was opened in Ellis Island, in which over 3 million Jewish refugees would pass through and completely change the fabric of the entire Jewish population. After a 90-year period of US military use, the island which is largely built on landfill was transformed into an immigration station that would soon turn into a large-scale industrious operation. 

On its very first operational day, the station processed more than 700 immigrants escaping all sorts of troubles in Europe and the entire globe. In the Jewish case, it was mostly Ashkenazi refugees who were fleeing the constant pogroms in Eastern Europe and general antisemitism that became a daily struggle The new American Jewish citizens would eventually change the entire cultural makeup of their ethnicity, becoming the largest and most prominent Jewish sub-group well after the state of Israel was founded. 

During the 1930s and ’40s, Ellis Island would become a symbol of Holocaust survivors' migration to America. The entire Jewish culture became completely dependent for many decades on the rehabilitation of the Jewish population in the US, along with the foundation of the Jewish state in 1948. 

Being an ethnically Jewish state serving the entire Jewish diaspora, Israel did not focus in its early years on salvaging what was left of the almost extinct Ashkenazi traditions and culture. That job would fall into the arms of many American-based Yeshivas, and synagogue-centered communities. Throughout the entire second half of the 20th century, communities like the Satmar Hasidim of Brooklyn and upper New York would devote their lives to reconstructing all Jewish aspects that were destroyed by the Germans in WW2.

The factory-like processing of immigrants on the island included medical steps and assistance in offering temporary housing for all who were seeking a better life under American democracy. Ellis Island was not only a crucial step for Jews globally but impacted Americans of all ethnicities and change the course of American history forever.

Jewish presence and contribution to virtually all American industries would not exist if it was not for the processing of immigrants on Ellis Island. Just some of the millions of Jews who arrived in the US through Ellis Island include Supreme Court Justice Felix Frankfurter, composer of “God Bless America” Irving Berlin, and former mayor of New York Abraham Beame. 

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