In the Shadow of the Shtetl: Small-Town Jewish Life in Soviet Ukraine

Overview

The story of how the Holocaust decimated Jewish life in the shtetls of Eastern Europe is well known. Still, thousands of Jews in these small towns survived the war and returned afterward to rebuild their communities. The recollections of some 400 returnees in Ukraine provide the basis for Jeffrey Veidlinger’s reappraisal of the traditional narrative of 20th-century Jewish history. These elderly Yiddish speakers relate their memories of Jewish life in the prewar shtetl, their stories of survival during the ...

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In the Shadow of the Shtetl: Small-Town Jewish Life in Soviet Ukraine

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Overview

The story of how the Holocaust decimated Jewish life in the shtetls of Eastern Europe is well known. Still, thousands of Jews in these small towns survived the war and returned afterward to rebuild their communities. The recollections of some 400 returnees in Ukraine provide the basis for Jeffrey Veidlinger’s reappraisal of the traditional narrative of 20th-century Jewish history. These elderly Yiddish speakers relate their memories of Jewish life in the prewar shtetl, their stories of survival during the Holocaust, and their experiences living as Jews under Communism. Despite Stalinist repressions, the Holocaust, and official antisemitism, their individual remembrances of family life, religious observance, education, and work testify to the survival of Jewish life in the shadow of the shtetl to this day.

Indiana University Press

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Editorial Reviews

Anna Shternshis

"This is a great book; very well written, entertaining, powerful, at times funny, at times sad, and enjoyable." —Anna Shternshis, author of Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939

Jonathan Dekel-Chen

"This magnificent work merges cutting-edge, archivally based history of the Soviet Union with the richness of original oral history interviews.... Through the recollections of these elderly interviewees come forth the bittersweet realities of life and death among Soviet shtetl Jews." —Jonathan Dekel-Chen, editor of Anti-Jewish Violence: Rethinking the Pogrom in East European Jewish History

Antony Polonsky

"That significant numbers of Yiddish-speaking Jews are still living in the small towns (the proverbial shtetlakh of Jewish collective memory) in the Podolian region of Ukraine will come as a great surprise to many. This vivid and well-documented study gives a moving and fascinating account of how these Jews survived the catastrophes of the 20th century and how some of them live today. It is essential reading for all those interested in the history of the Jews of Eastern Europe." —Antony Polonsky, author of The Jews in Poland and Russia

Steven J. Zipperstein

"A deeply-informed, humane portrait, part-travelogue, but also an invaluable history of a mostly forgotten slice of contemporary Jewish life, this book is beautifully wrought, and singularly interesting. Jeffrey Veidlinger is a first rate observer of topography, language, and politics, an historian whose appreciation of the humanity of his subject-material is acute, and arresting." —Steven J. Zipperstein, author of Roosenfeld's Lives: Fame, Oblivion, and the Furies of Writing

From the Publisher
"This magnificent work merges cutting-edge, archivally based history of the Soviet Union with the richness of original oral history interviews.... Through the recollections of these elderly interviewees come forth the bittersweet realities of life and death among Soviet shtetl Jews." —Jonathan Dekel-Chen, editor of Anti-Jewish Violence: Rethinking the Pogrom in East European Jewish History

"Hitherto the story of the Holocaust in the Eastern European shtetl has been told by those who left—on behalf of those who did not survive. What do we learn from these stories told from the shtetl itself? In the Shadow of the Shtetl restores horror to the setting in which it occurred: at home, among familiar people and places...In their accounts the everyday and the extraordinary, the innocuous and the gruesome are continually intertwined. The same people participated in both. The relationship between the normal and the abnormal, the intimate and the alien takes on a different shape in these stories—perhaps a shape that can help us better understand places like Rwanda or Cambodia—or Bosnia." —New York Review of Books

"That significant numbers of Yiddish-speaking Jews are still living in the small towns (the proverbial shtetlakh of Jewish collective memory) in the Podolian region of Ukraine will come as a great surprise to many. This vivid and well-documented study gives a moving and fascinating account of how these Jews survived the catastrophes of the 20th century and how some of them live today. It is essential reading for all those interested in the history of the Jews of Eastern Europe." —Antony Polonsky, author of The Jews in Poland and Russia

"Veidlinger... is a talented, sensitive guide through the memories of small-town Jewish life, which he compares with an array of published archival research.... Recommended." —Choice

"A deeply-informed, humane portrait, part-travelogue, but also an invaluable history of a mostly forgotten slice of contemporary Jewish life, this book is beautifully wrought, and singularly interesting. Jeffrey Veidlinger is a first rate observer of topography, language, and politics, an historian whose appreciation of the humanity of his subject-material is acute, and arresting." —Steven J. Zipperstein, author of Roosenfeld's Lives: Fame, Oblivion, and the Furies of Writing

"This is a great book; very well written, entertaining, powerful, at times funny, at times sad, and enjoyable." —Anna Shternshis, author of Soviet and Kosher: Jewish Popular Culture in the Soviet Union, 1923-1939

Read More Show Less

Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780253011510
  • Publisher: Indiana University Press
  • Publication date: 11/1/2013
  • Pages: 424
  • Sales rank: 367,967
  • Product dimensions: 6.00 (w) x 9.10 (h) x 1.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Jeffrey Veidlinger is Joseph Brodsky Collegiate Professor of History and Judaic Studies at the University of Michigan. He is author of The Moscow State Yiddish Theater (IUP, 2006) and Jewish Public Culture in the Late Russian Empire (IUP, 2009).

Indiana University Press

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Table of Contents

Introduction
Note on Translation
1. The Shtetl: A Historical Landscape
2.The Scars of Revolution
3.Social Structure of the Soviet Shtetl
4.Growing Up in Yiddish
5.The Sanctuary of the Synagogue
6.Religion of the Home: Food and Faith
7.Life and Death in Reichkommissariat Ukraine
8. Life Beyond the River: Transnistria
9. A Kind of Victory
Conclusion
Brief Biographies
Notes
Bibliography
Acknowledgements
Index

Indiana University Press

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