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Spiritual RadicalAbraham Joshua Heschel in America, 1940-1972$
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Edward K. Kaplan

Print publication date: 2007

Print ISBN-13: 9780300115406

Published to Yale Scholarship Online: October 2013

DOI: 10.12987/yale/9780300115406.001.0001

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First Year in America (1940–1941)

First Year in America (1940–1941)

(p.4) 1 First Year in America (1940–1941)
Spiritual Radical

Edward K. Kaplan

Yale University Press

This chapter focuses on Heschel's arrival in America on 21 March 1940 and his first year there. Heschel came to America via the Cunard White Star liner Lancastria that docked in New York City. Although the New York Times reported that, among the ship's 480 passengers, about 360 were “German refugees,” in reality, the passengers were mostly Jews fleeing Hitler. The twelve-day voyage had been rough, marked by the terrors of war and storms that battered the vessel, shattering several portholes. On leaving the boat, Heschel was startled to see an African American kneeling to polish the shoes of a white man. Like many Europeans, he had never before seen a black person. Heschel was shocked by this view of America's racial hierarchy, a segmentation to which he remained particularly sensitive.

Keywords:   segmentation, racial hierarchy, America, Lancastria, New York City, German refugees, Hitler

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