Page 205 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 25

Basic HTML Version

mores and everyday life in the
sh te t l .
Th is led to the appearance
of numerous Yizkor books, published by the various landsman-
shaft groups in different parts of the world. They usually con-
tain recollections about life in the
sh te t l ,
descriptions of impor-
tant people, rabbis, scholars, and community leaders. They also
devote considerable attention to synagogues, Hebrew schools, and
diverse self-aid and communal organizations. Special events are
recorded, like a demonstration, a pogrom, a raging fire that de-
stroyed a large part of the town, the annual draft, important
fairs. Special attention is given to the economic life of the
sh te t l .
The different Jewish trades and occupations are discussed, as
are Jewish business and commerce. Some writers dwell on the
relationship between the Jews and their non-Jewish neighbors,
and between the Jews and the government officials and agencies.
The rise of the Haskalah movement, the early
m a sk i lim ,
controversy between the traditionalists and the progressives, are
detailed. The emergence of Zionism and the Jewish labor move-
ment, the development of revolutionary activities among the
Jews, the great migration, all are there. Th e class struggle be-
tween Jewish manufacturers and Jewish workers is not neglected,
nor the rise of Hebraism and Yiddishism. The establishment of
modern Hebrew and Yiddish language schools, public libraries,
trade unions, cultural clubs, singing societies, literary societies,
theatrical groups, debating societies, evening classes for adults,
the political groups and parties are also enumerated. From all
these descriptions a paradigm and way of life emerge in clear
Special sections in each Yizkor book are devoted to the Holo-
caust. T h e survivors describe their experiences and, in some
cases, how they managed to remain alive. Each tale is poignant,
each episode is different; their composite unity combines into
a syndrome of pain, anxiety and horror. In some books docu-
ments are reproduced, along with German orders, photographs
of mutilated bodies, even of executions. Other books list names
of all the murdered inhabitants of the
sh te t l .
Some of the books
contain material about those who migrated and settled in the
United States, and include reports about the activities of the
various landsmanshaftn or self-aid societies.
The Yizkor books vary in quality. Some are better edited by
specialists and contain important information; others by ama-
teurs who are incapable of handling the material adequately.
Some have analytical essays or studies; in others there is a lack
of analysis of the sources. However, even the poorly edited and
weakly written works add to our knowledge about the Holocaust
and about the daily life in the
sh te t l .
It is astonishing that this immense source about Jewish life
on the eve of the Holocaust and about the Holocaust has for the