Book Presentation by Ellen Eisenberg, Dwight & Margaret Lear Professor of American History
This presentation explores how the razing of a South Portland neighborhood under an Urban Renewal plan in the 1960’s led to the birth of a new Oregon Jewish history. In an effort to tell the story of the immigrant experience in
the soon-to-be paved over neighborhood, a group of Jewish women stepped forward to collect oral histories, write an original musical, and prepare a series of exhibits. In the process, they created Old South Portland, the product of communal memory and more general American Jewish tropes. Emerging
at a time when the Lower East Side had become the iconic version of the East European immigrant story and while Fiddler on the Roof was playing on Broadway and on the silver screen, Old South Portland drew on both, importing
elements of these stories and transposing them onto the local landscape.