Overview

SHE HAD SAID THE UNSAYABLE

In my mother's mind the word Jew used all by itself, nakedly, as it were, was not a word but a curse. She believed it was used only by people who hated Jews. If it had its three letters--its "-ish"--on the end, ah, that made the difference. If I said that someone was a Jew, my mother would ask me, "So what is he? A no-goodnik? A gangster?"

As I have understood it, my mother had come out on the porch at the very moment...

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The Jew Store

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Overview

SHE HAD SAID THE UNSAYABLE

In my mother's mind the word Jew used all by itself, nakedly, as it were, was not a word but a curse. She believed it was used only by people who hated Jews. If it had its three letters--its "-ish"--on the end, ah, that made the difference. If I said that someone was a Jew, my mother would ask me, "So what is he? A no-goodnik? A gangster?"

As I have understood it, my mother had come out on the porch at the very moment Miss Brookie had used the phrase "Jew store" on the telephone with Tom Dillon, before my father's meeting with Dillon. Miss Brookie used it as shorthand for the kind of business my father had in mind...but all my mother knew at that moment was that Miss Brookie had said the unsayable--had said "Jew store." -- Stella Suberman, from The Jew Store



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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781565128743
  • Publisher: Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
  • Publication date: 9/14/2001
  • Sold by: Barnes & Noble
  • Format: eBook
  • Pages: 320
  • Sales rank: 155,939
  • File size: 3 MB

Meet the Author

Stella Suberman was born in Union City, Tennessee, the setting for her memoir, The Jew Store, and spent her teens in Miami Beach, Florida. After twenty years in North Carolina, she returned to Florida in 1966 as the administrative director of the Lowe Art Museum of the University of Miami. Now retired, she lives in Boca Raton.
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Read an Excerpt

SHE HAD SAID THE UNSAYABLE

In my mother's mind the word Jew used all by itself, nakedly, as it were, was not a word but a curse. She believed it was used only by people who hated Jews. If it had its three letters--its "-ish"--on the end, ah, that made the difference. If I said that someone was a Jew, my mother would ask me, "So what is he? A no-goodnik? A gangster?"

As I have understood it, my mother had come out on the porch at the very moment Miss Brookie had used the phrase "Jew store" on the telephone with Tom Dillon, before my father's meeting with Dillon. Miss Brookie used it as shorthand for the kind of business my father had in mind...but all my mother knew at that moment was that Miss Brookie had said the unsayable--had said "Jew store." -- Stella Suberman, from The Jew Store

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Table of Contents

Prologue 1
1 The Destination 5
2 Avram Plotchnikoff's New Name 16
3 A Nice Jewish Girl 25
4 For Better or for Worse 31
5 God's (So to Speak) Country 44
6 Miss Brookie's Cousin Tom 55
7 Xenophobia 61
8 My Father's Fancy Footwork 68
9 Bronson's Low-Priced Store 82
10 Green Eyeshades 90
11 No Picnic 100
12 Opening Day 112
13 In Christ's Name, Amen 127
14 A Gleam in My Mother's Eye 136
15 Two Social Calls 143
16 A House and Neighbors 161
17 My Mother's Dilemma 174
18 Seth's New Job 184
19 New York Aunts 197
20 The Bar Mitzvah Question 217
21 Gentiles 226
22 Joey's Homecoming 231
23 Miriam's Romance 239
24 Aunt Hannah's Wedding 247
25 Concordia's Savior 256
26 Miriam's Rescue 271
27 Push Comes to Shove 281
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Sort by: Showing all of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Posted March 17, 2013

    A sweet story that I really enjoyed!

    A sweet story that I really enjoyed!

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  • Posted December 27, 2010

    Warm and wonderful for everyone, Jewish or not.

    This book was a serendipitous find for me. At times it's laugh out loud funny; always educational, occssionally sad---a very rich meal. Your book club will love it. Ms. Suberman is a fine writer, highly tuned in to the vibes of relationships between different types of people. Her take on the Klan is priceless. I'll be giving this book as a gift to treasured friends for some time to come.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted February 23, 2004

    LOVED this book!

    My book club (a group of Catholic women!) picked this book on a whim, and we all absolutely loved it! It's a wonderful story, light-hearted read, but you also learn a few things. The characters stay with you for a while afterwards. One of those books you are sorry to end, and glad you read.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2003

    Intimate family struggle captivating struggles of Russian society an a new beginning

    The Jew Store, by Stella Suberman, is an intimate family story about the struggles of Russian society and a new beginning. In 1920, two years before the author was born, her family became the first Jews to live in Concordia, Tennessee. Her father Aaron Bronson, who was a Russian Jewish immigrant, moved his family to America to get away from the pre-revolutionary Russia. When they got to Tennessee they came to know Miss Brookie who took them in. The Bronson¿s soon opened their low-priced store which the locals liked to call, ¿The Jew Store¿. African Americans suffered great discrimination, which the Ku Klux Klan was on the march. But at the same time Jews were viewed with suspicion. The Bronson¿s also faced hardships with trying to bring their children up to be Jewish while they were surrounded by a Christian society. The other members of the Bronson family are Aaron¿s wife Reba, their two older kids Joey and Miriam, and the youngest Stella. They stayed in Concordia until 1933, when Reba¿s optimism finally pushed through and the Bronson¿s moved back to New York to raise their children in Jewish surroundings. Suberman writes by vividly captivating humanity of the surroundings while still having humor. The book captures the times her family faced and the positive relationships they formed while trying not to be alienated. This will attract casual readers and those who are into intimate family experiences. It isn¿t another holocaust book, but rather a family memoir of Jews that were fortunate enough to have missed the troubles overseas, but at the same time faced hardships of their own.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 7, 2002

    Better Than Kugel

    What a trip down memory lane! If you were raised in the south, you lived with a Jew store in town. I loved every word of this memoir, but more than the words, I loved remembering about the people that ran the Jew store. Excellent Read!

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 2, 2001

    Great reading of a fading 'institution'

    This book explained much. My mother grew up in a small town in Alabama that still has a 'Jew Store'. I never realized what those were until I heard an interview with author Stella Suberman by Rebecca Bayne(sp?) on Nashville Public Radio. I bought the book and enjoyed it greatly. This could be the story of anyone who is different in a small town anywhere. It's captures the joys of small town life as well as some of the negatives. You can sympathize with the father for wanting to live in a small town and enjoy the amenities, but you can feel the isolation that the mother feels. The story is absorbing and frequently funny. The language and settings are both Southern and New York and sympathetic - Ms. Suberman does not picture the townspeople as ignorant or unintelligent, but instead stresses their appeal as warm, neighborly people. But there are some dark moments. You will not regret purchasing this book. Very entertaining.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 28, 2001

    A POIGNANT REMEMBRANCE

    'For a real bargain, while you're making a living, you should also make a life.' That was Aaron Bronson's motto. Well, Russian Jewish immigrant Bronson did both, 'in spades,' as he would say. His daughter, Stella Suberman, has now written a book, and she's done it 'in spades.' This warm memoir of her family's experiences as the first Jews to live in Concordia, Tennessee, is vibrant with wit and cogent with commentary about 1920s life in a small Southern town. Rather than a pejorative title, Ms. Suberman says 'the Jew store' is what people really called such shops, businesses owned by Jews who catered to farmhands, share croppers, and factory hands, offering them inexpensive clothes, piece goods, and linens. 'They didn't know about political correctness in those days,' she said, 'that is just what it was called.' Seeing opportunity in the South, Aaron Bronson, his wife, Reba, and their two children, Joey and Miriam (Stella was not yet born) set out from New York City to open a dry goods store. Upon arriving in Concordia, population 5,381, the family was taken in by voluble, independent Miss Brookie. Reba, who came with a mood that was 'like a thing on her chest,' was ill-at-ease, fearing the Ku Klux Klan, and people who believed Jews had horns on their heads. Later, she faced what she considered to be an even greater terror: Joey might not have a bar mitzvah and Miriam might be in love with a Gentile. On the other hand, Aaron took to the town immediately and opened 'Bronson's Low-Priced Store,' so identified by gilt lettering on the windows. His elation at having his own business knew no bounds; Reba described him as 'Flying with the birdies.' Aaron's shop flourished, as did he, becoming the first to hire a black as a salesperson. In years to come, he would make invaluable contributions to his Depression wracked community. Detente preceded affection as the townsfolk overcame their initial skepticism of Jewish people and grew to view the Bronson family as neighbors and friends. Miss Brookie gave Miriam piano lessons and attempted to enlist Reba in a battle to do away with child labor in the local shoe factory. Nonetheless, In 1933 Reba held sway and, although Aaron thought of Concordia as home, he agreed to take their three children and return to New York City, where he would open a garage and each child would eventually marry within the Jewish faith. Stella Suberman has turned a poignant family remembrance into a rich, sometimes funny, always touching story. In addition, she has shed light on a little known facet of Jewish/American history.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 29, 2000

    Very interesting reading

    My family owned 'the Jew store' in a small town in Mississippi before I was born. I have heard stories of those times and this book gave me more insight into my own family's experiences. A must read for Jews born in the south or those that have been transplanted to the south.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 18, 2012

    No text was provided for this review.

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