During World War II, Jews still felt the sting of social anti-Semitism that had, for so long, limited where they could live and with whom they might work. To make matters worse, while isolationism among reputable Americans ended after Pearl Harbor, political anti-Semites were still very much around accusing the Jews of war mongering. But soon after the war, Jew hatred here began to decline; in part, in reaction over time to what had occurred in occupied Europe. More importantly, more than half a million Jewish G.I.s – one in 10 American Jews who came home possessed a sense of pride that they had contributed much and were worthy of reward. Having stood shoulder to shoulder with all others, Jews demanded their rewards. And they were to find that the American government and most of their fellow citizens agreed.
Under the G.I. Bill, Jews who fought overseas found mortgages available to them in new suburban locales where they could live harmoniously with American Christians. And they were accepted as students in many of this country’s elite universities, including those that had previously been closed to them. Thus, May 8th, 1945 was a turning point in American Jewish history whose ramifications we still feel today.
Jeffrey S. Gurock, “American Jews, V-E Day and Beyond”, The Jewish Week (1 May 2015), 23.