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From "WVU Grad Wins National Prize for Book on Jewish Immigrants in Appalachia"
West Virginia University Press Release, November 28, 2007

Weiner’s book was selected by the Southern Jewish Historical Society for the top prize from among 11 books published during 2003-06 throughout the nation. She was recognized at the historical society’s annual conference this month in Washington, D.C. ... “Deborah Weiner’s exemplary study of Jewish life in Appalachia presents a carefully researched examination of the texture of Jewish experience within the varied settings that defined the different coalfield communities in which Appalachian Jews found their homes,” said Karla Goldman, chair of the society’s book prize subcommittee.

Christopher M. Sterba, in American Historical Review, October 2007
A well-written and engaging history.... Weiner’s main goal is “to unsettle commonly held views of both Appalachia and the American Jewish experience.” The book succeeds on both counts.... Like the best community studies, it informs several historical fields. This book should be required reading for any student of Appalachian and American Jewish history.

Leonard Rogoff, in West Virginia History, Fall 2007
Coalfield Jews addresses larger questions of identity that have embroiled both southern and Jewish historians.... That Weiner has been able to speak to all these audiences attests to both her scholarly credentials and narrative skills.

Dwight Billings, in American Jewish History, June 2007
Coalfield Jews is a fine example of scholarship that effectively blends comparative and historical analysis, skillful exposition, thick description, graceful and evocative writing, and rich insight. It adds to our understanding of the complexity of Jewish life in small-town America by looking at a distinct industrializing setting, and it sheds considerable light on a much misunderstood American region.

From "Haven in the Hollows," a review by Glenn C. Altschuler
Forward, January 5, 2007

If not always “a veritable haven,” Appalachia was home to hundreds of Jews between the 1880s and 1930s. In Coalfield Jews, Deborah Weiner, research historian and family history coordinator at the Jewish Museum of Maryland, tells their story meticulously and movingly ... It is a ... narrative of upward mobility along a bumpy path, Orthodox religious observance giving way to Reform and the struggle to assimilate while maintaining Jewish identity. Contrary to the image of the region as isolated, inward and hostile to strangers, Weiner shows that the boomtowns of Appalachia were receptive to Jews. And as they accommodated themselves to a Southern, Christian society, Jews managed to maintain close-knit communities for several generations.

From "Who Knew? W. VA. Coaltowns Rivaled NY For Jews,"  a review by Paul J. Nyden
The Charleston Gazette, December 24, 2006
Coalfield Jews is a fascinating, previously untold story about the unique role immigrant Jews played in Central Appalachian coal towns and county seats between the 1870s and the 1950s ... Weiner adds a revealing portrait of the critical role of a unique
people who seemed to have escaped notice until this new book.

Jonathan D. Sarna, Joseph H. & Belle R. Braun Professor of American Jewish History, Brandeis University
Unique and engaging, Coalfield Jews is the definitive treatment of its subject. The book is full of surprises as it opens up a hitherto unexplored area of study of Jewish life in the central Appalachian coalfields. Of particular importance is its focus on Jewish economic life and its exploration of Jews as a 'middleman minority' in the area.

John C. Inscoe, University of Georgia
Deborah Weiner breaks significant new ground in her ambitious study of Jewish immigrants to the Appalachian coalfields and the ways in which they adapted to the region as a whole and to individual communities throughout it. Her meticulous and multifaceted re-creation of so many lives and experiences is as much a contribution to business and labor history, immigration and ethnic history, and social history as it is to Appalachian history, and deserves serious attention from scholars in all of these fields.

 

Coalfield Jews - An Appalachian History
Deborah R. Weiner