Paul Kriwaczek begins this illuminating and immensely pleasurable chronicle of Yiddish civilization during the Roman empire, when Jewish culture first spread to Europe. We see the burgeoning exile population disperse, as its notable diplomats, artists and thinkers make their mark in far-flung cities and found a self-governing Yiddish world. By its late-medieval heyday, this economically successful, intellectually adventurous, and self-aware society stretched from the Baltic to the Black Sea. Kriwaczek traces, too, the slow decline of Yiddish culture in Europe and Russia, and highlights fresh offshoots in the New World.Combining family anecdote, travelogue, original research, and a keen understanding of Yiddish art and literature, Kriwaczek gives us an exceptional portrait of a culture which, though nearly extinguished, has an influential radiance still.
From the Trade Paperback edition.
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|Title of Religion eBook: Yiddish Civilisation|
|Release Date: 12-18-2007|
|Allowed Countries (hover)|
|Publisher: Knopf Publishing Group|
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Bist a Yid?
Back at the beginning of the 1950s—memory suggests—the world was all in Technicolor and it never rained in summer. Nat King Cole headed the hit parade with “They Try to Tell Us We’re Too Young,” Tottenham Hotspur was top of the football league and Newcastle United beat Blackpool to the Football Association cup. Butter, meat and sweets were still rationed in Britain and the average weekly wage was around £7, though you could buy a house for under five hundred. Money was tight, particularly pocket money. When the weather was fine, schoolboys like me would save our bus fares for fizzy drinks and walk the couple of miles to school instead.
Our school in north-west London drew its pupils from a wide and diverse area. Every morning, teenage boys—in the rigidly enforced uniform of grey flannel trousers, school blazers and caps (plus satchels and shining morning faces)—could be seen converging on the red-brick Victorian building like wildlife towards a waterhole. We assembled from every part of the suburb: many poorer boys from the working-class terraces leading off the busy, grimy high street, middle-class pupils from upper-bracket apartment blocks with pretentious names like Grosvenor Mansions, and a small number of rich kids from spacious six-bedroomed detached houses with carriage drives, double garages and acres of garden. One young turbaned Sikh was daily delivered to the school gates by chauffeur-driven Bentley. He was the exception; by far the largest religious minority were Jews, for whom Britain’s post-war grammar schools offered the irresistible attracti