Pioneer Jews and Their Five Added Values

The Jewish Western Pioneer:

What We Added to the “Mix”

The dual history we have discussed included Jews.

Like non-Jews, we tended to settle in our own Eastern ethnic communities, living with our families, friends, foods, and culture.

But within this culture we, too, had certain individuals who wanted more — wanted adventure, wanted to break away, travel, and, perhaps, make their fortune.

So a small number of Jews left their communities and headed West, as did many more coming off the boat from their homes in Europe.


A Large Percentage of Jews

Actually, the number of Jews that went West in the early years of the mid-1800s was a much higher percentage than most other groups.

We were less than 1% of the national population, yet the Census of 1870 shows many cities and towns in the West with a 3-5% Jewish population.

In the same census, San Francisco had a larger percentage of Jews than New York City. Over 10%!

When the great migrations took place, with the advent of the trans­continental railroad after the Civil War, the Jewish population percentages dropped in the West.

We made our mark early in this “Great Adventure.”


Two Important Questions:

1) What did our Jew­ish forefathers bring to this concept of the “Western Man” that gave them a “leg up?”

2) Why were they often able to succeed faster than most in the Wild West?


The answer: Specific Jewish Values.


The Five Prized Jewish Values


Click on each value below for a specific explanation

Integrity “I”

Knowledge of Jewish History “H”

Education “E”

Language Ability “L

from Why the Jews Were So Successful in the Wild West…And How to Tell Their Stories, by David W. Epstein, Isaac Nathan Publishing, 2007.