Jews and the Middle East

Jews, forced out of many places in Europe, began to enter Minnesota in the mid-1800's, first to take up land and then, when they had worked it long enough to own it, to sell out and move into a more urban society, where they were more at home. Communities of similar belief made it more possible to keep kosher and practice their faith.

A group of families came to Duluth from Vilna, Lithuania, and the Ramseyer Collection has the printed Torah which they brought with them. The Jewish population in Duluth peaked in the mid-1930's at about 3,700, but today is probably more like 1,000. Like other eastern European immigrants, the movement peaked in 1914, but post-World War II movements have been more extensive. The use of Yiddish is not as common among European and American Jews as it used to be, but the Ramseyer Collection holds a number of translations in that language.

Other Middle Eastern immigrants were not numerous in the early days of immigration into Minnesota and not many of those were Muslim. But in more recent years the influx has been greater, because of the economic opportunities in America, and disturbances in the Middle East, such as that of the expulsion of many Bahá'ís from Iran after the fall of the Shah there. Today people coming from the Middle East tend to be Muslim and the diversity of religion in Minnesota is growing.

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Pieces of burnt paper with writing on it      Translation of previous picture
Coptic Gospel of St. John
London, 1924
Hand written text
Egyptian Arabic Bible
Cairo, 1927
Hand written text
Yiddish Old Testament
London, 1908
Hand written text
Hebrew New Testament
Leipzig, 1839
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