Beautiful as the Moon, Radiant as the Stars: Jewish Women in Yiddish Stories

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Overview

- This book is certain to appeal to the millions of Jewish women interested in Jewish literature and the writings of Cynthia Ozick, Francine Prose, and Grace Paley. Beautifully packaged, it is an ideal Mother's Day or Bat-Mitzvah gift.- This volume contains translations of Yiddish stories from eminent scholars—including an Isaac Bashevis Singer story that has never before been published in English—and well-known tales that Jewish readers everywhere love.- As bestsellers such as "Everything is Illuminated by Jonathan Safran Foer (Houghton Mifflin, 4/02) and "For the Relief of Unbearable Urges by Nathan Englander (Knopf, 1999) have demonstrated, there is a strong interest in Jewish stories.- Yiddish culture and music have seen a resurgence in recent years. NPR's "All Things Considered aired a series of highly acclaimed documentaries about the Yiddish Radio Project and Klezmer musicians regularly play at top alternative venues.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Bark's appealing anthology gathers 22 stories chronicling Jewish women's lives in late 19th- and early 20th-century Europe, Russia, the United States and Israel. Though most of the stories were published in the 1920s and '30s, many in Yiddish newspapers and magazines, their themes-love, thwarted ambition, identity, assimilation-still resonate. The heroines, who are of all ages and classes, find themselves struggling for education, autonomy, equality-just as many of their real-life contemporaries did. In a collection emphasizing female experience, some of the best stories are written by men. David Bergelson's newly translated "Spring," for example, is a bittersweet story of two sisters' desire for the same impassioned artist. Isaac Bashevis Singer makes two memorable appearances, with his enduring "Yentl the Yeshiva Boy" and his gender-bending "Androgynous," which recently appeared for the first time in English in the New Yorker. (Bark posits that "Yentl" was inspired by the unrealized educational aspirations of Singer's sister, Esther Singer Kreitman, whose own short story in this collection, sandwiched between two of her brother's, pales somewhat in comparison.) The writers offer intriguing glimpses into a rich and complex world, and together their stories create a moving testament to the intelligence and resilience of turn-of-the-century Jewish women. As Francine Prose writes in her succinct introduction, the book "makes us grateful to these heroines for having had the courage and resolve to help prepare the way for us to insist upon-and even to take for granted-the ordinary, everyday, absolutely essential freedoms that we enjoy today." (Nov. 1) Copyright 2003 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
Twenty-three stories by various well-known and obscure authors attempt to answer the question of: "What does it mean to be a Jewish woman?" Bark has laid out a pretty rich smorgasbord, spanning most of the past century and taking into account authors as varied as Dvora Baron (the first modern Hebrew woman writer) and Isaac Bashevis Singer. Hers is not a strictly feminist/women's studies approach, for while many of the tales include harshly critical portrayals of the subservience of women in traditional Jewish households, others are anecdotal, comic, or frankly nostalgic for the Old World. The daughter of a pious Hasid in Helen Londynski's "The Four-Ruble War" has to finagle her way into a Warsaw high school against the wishes of her father, who fears-with good reason, it turns out-that modern education will turn her against the practice of her faith. Singer's famous "Yentl the Yeshiva Boy" (about the daughter of a rabbi who disguises herself as a man in order to study the Torah in school) is included, along with a strange, lesser-known tale ("Androgynous") about an eccentric rabbi who willingly marries an androgyne and lives happily ever after with her (or him). Sholem Aleichem's "Hodel" is an excerpt from his novel Tevye's Daughters (better known as the musical Fiddler on the Roof), portraying the tragic love of a young woman from the shtetl for a Communist university student in Tsarist Russia. The best stories are subtle accounts of the interplay between the social and the private spheres: Baron's "Kaddish" (the adopted daughter of a rabbi tries to say a son's prayers for the dead man), for example, or Fradel Schtock's "Winter Berries" (an unhappy young girl from a poor family dreams ofa better life while running an errand for her mother). A good collection that looks at a vanished world from an unusual perspective: Bark's anthology has a sharp edge but a mercifully light hand.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780446691369
  • Publisher: Grand Central Publishing
  • Publication date: 11/28/2003
  • Pages: 368
  • Product dimensions: 5.25 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

Meet the Author

Sandra Bark is an editor at Warner Books.

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Table of Contents

Foreword
Introduction
A Note on the Transliteration
Kaddish 1
The Sack with Pink Stripes 9
Winter Berries 21
My First Readers 29
At the Rich Relatives 55
At the Mill 75
The Four-Ruble War 83
Yentl the Yeshiva Boy 101
A Satin Coat 131
Androgynous 153
Hodel 171
Spring 191
Bella Fell in Love 211
Rosh Hashanah 233
Two Heads 243
In the Boardinghouse 247
Bryna's Mendl 259
Bubbe Henya 269
Bubbe Malke 279
Scenes on a Bare Canvas 291
The Fourth Mitzvah 303
The Death of My Aunt 309
Glossary 319
Selected Source Notes 323
Selected Bibliography 327
Copyrights and Permissions 329
About the Translators 331
About the Editor 336
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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 1, 2003

    Great ethnic anthology

    BEAUTIFUL AS THE MOON, RADIANT AS THE STARS: JEWISH WOMEN IN YIDDISH STORIES: AN ANTHOLOGY is a superb look at what it means to be a Jewish woman especially in a westernized society but also in places like Tsar Russia. Many of the stories were originally written in Yiddish and are transliterated into English so some of the idiomatic meaning may be lost, but the overall intent is captured and the prose smooth. The contributions were published in late 19th- and early 20th-century Europe, Russia, the United States and Israel with most found in 1920s and 1930s Yiddish newspapers and magazines............................................. Each of the short stories is well written and endearing as the topics remain strong today. Subjects like love for family, community and torah, and identity and assimilation remain powerful discussion topics even today. The commonalty besides being interesting is that all share (regardless of the authors' age, marital status, or social class) the belief that the Jewish female is key to the religion¿s survival. This is a superb anthology that though it provides a deep look into the early twentieth century Jewish life, the stories ring true for any person living in the information technology age................................... Harriet Klausner

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