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Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto
     

Yekl: A Tale of the New York Ghetto

by Abraham Cahan
 

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The operatives of the cloak-shop in which Jake was employed had been idle all the morning. It was after twelve o'clock and the "boss" had not yet returned from Broadway, whither he had betaken himself two or three hours before in quest of work. The little sweltering assemblage-for it was an oppressive day in midsummer-beguiled their suspense variously. A

Overview

The operatives of the cloak-shop in which Jake was employed had been idle all the morning. It was after twelve o'clock and the "boss" had not yet returned from Broadway, whither he had betaken himself two or three hours before in quest of work. The little sweltering assemblage-for it was an oppressive day in midsummer-beguiled their suspense variously. A rabbinical-looking man of thirty, who sat with the back of his chair tilted against his sewing machine, was intent upon an English newspaper.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781523898213
Publisher:
CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date:
05/07/2016
Pages:
62
Product dimensions:
5.98(w) x 9.02(h) x 0.13(d)

Related Subjects

Read an Excerpt


CHAPTER III. IN THE GRIP OF HIS PAST. Jake had never even vaguely abandoned the idea of supplying his wife and child with the means of coming to join him. He was more or less prompt in remitting her monthly allowance of ten rubles, and the visit to the draft and passage office had become part of the routine of his life. It had the invariable effect of arousing his dormant scruples, and he hardly ever left the office without ascertaining the price of a steerage voyage from Hamburg to New York. But no sooner did he emerge from the dingy basement into the noisy scenes of Essex Street, than he would consciously let his mind wander off to other topics. Formerly, during the early part of his sojourn in Boston, his landing place, where some of his townsfolk resided and where he had passed his first two years in America, he used to mention his Gitl and his Yosselé so frequently and so enthusiastically, that some wags among the Hanover Street tailors would sing " Yekl and wife and the baby " to the tune of Molly and I and the Baby. In the natural course of things, however, these retrospective effusions gradually became far between, and since he had shifted his abode to New York he carefully avoided all reference to his antecedents. The Jewish quarter of the metropolis, which is a vast and compact city within a city, offers its denizens incomparably fewer chances of contact with the English-speaking portion of the population than any of the three separate Ghettos of Boston. As a consequence, since Jake's advent to New York his passion for American sport had considerably cooled off. And, to make up for this, his enthusiastic nature before long found vent in dancing and in ageneral lifeof gallantry. His proved knack with the gentle sex had turned his head and now cost him all his le...

Meet the Author

Abraham "Abe" Cahan (July 7, 1860 - August 31, 1951) was a Lithuanian-born Jewish-American socialist newspaper editor, novelist, and politician.

Abraham Cahan was born July 7, 1860, in Podberezhie in Lithuania (at the time occupied by the Russian Empire, into an orthodox Litvak family. His grandfather was a rabbi in Vidz, Vitebsk, his father a teacher of Hebrew language and the Talmud. The family, which was devoutly religious, moved in 1866 to Vilna (Vilnius), where the young Cahan received the usual Jewish preparatory education for the rabbinate. He, however, was attracted by secular knowledge and clandestinely studied the Russian language, ultimately prevailing on his parents to allow him to enter the Teachers Institute of Wilna, from which he was graduated in 1881. He was appointed teacher in a Jewish government school in Velizh, Vitebsk, in the same year.
Cahan's Immigration

Abraham Cahan lived in Russia when the country was a pre-industrial Christian state with an economic structure that deterred the advancing economic activities in which Jews typically partook. Russia had a record of Jewish intolerance as the Czarist government viewed the Jewish minority as an autonomously governable group which became subject to discrimination and even brutality. By 1879, when Cahan was still a teenager, he had associated himself with the growing radical revolutionary movement in Russia. Czar Alexander II was assassinated by a member of the Socialist Revolutionary Party in March 1881, causing all revolutionary sympathizers to be suspect by Russian police. In 1882 the Russian police searched Cahan's room for radical publications that could be linked to the Socialist Revolutionary Party. This visit from the police prompted the young socialist schoolteacher to escape to the United States through emigration. Cahan was by no means unique in his venture. At the time of his immigration to America three quarters of American Jewish immigrants came from Czarist Russia. Cahan arrived by steamboat in Philadelphia on June 6 of 1882 and immediately traveled to New York where he would live for the remainder of his life.

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