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The Worlds of Mendes Cohen

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Mendes Cohen's journey went from America to the Old World and back again. His voyage of personal discovery was set against a backdrop of enormous upheavals and change – in politics, religion, business and technology. 

At the start of Mendes' life, Baltimore was on the very fringe of the Jewish world. Most Jews lived in the Russian, Ottoman and Austrian empires as well as the German states.  In Mendes Cohen's own lifetime the Jewish people would have to sort out their identities - to uphold traditions or adapt to changing times? To join movements for democracy and nationalism or to leave their place of birth?  Sometimes it was hard to tell friend from foe. In these uncertain times, Mendes was not only a witness but also a participant in change.

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