Once upon a Shtetl

Once upon a Shtetl

by Marjorie Hirshan


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This spirited novel paints the colorful characters in my Jewish generational family in the shtetl, Skalat, Austria, in Galicia from the 1890s and on.

This is their story.

It reveals their daily fight to handle poverty, fears, their private neuroses and anti-Semitism which pervades their days. Ever battling to eke out a living, they still fall romantically and lustily in love, marry, and have children. Their early innocence is touching and human.

Some remain stalwart defending their religious beliefs, while others grow intellectually, attending secret meetings in the woods, joining a new Renaissance philosophy called the Haskalah movement. They turn away from God and the old customs, their secularism causing pain to the older generation.

History is cruel to them. Its brutal pogroms, murderous deaths or attacks by hostile Polish soldiers, and confusing wars bring changes they learn to handle stoically. Survival is the grandiose aim.

Rapes of their female family members are deeply tortuous but their women are endowed with shtetl metal strengths to recover, surrounded by familial love and boundless support. Shtetl bonds and customs carry them through their troubled days.

Some flee and escape to America, the golden land with gold in the streets, seeking jobs or a new freedom for learning and education. A new survival.

Their story permeates us, and envelops us in much pride. And we carry their deep-felt love of family and shtetl in our hearts, equipping us with the necessities to hand its values to new generations.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781456421168
Publisher: CreateSpace Publishing
Publication date: 02/16/2011
Pages: 282
Product dimensions: 6.69(w) x 9.61(h) x 0.59(d)

About the Author

Marjorie Schonhaut Hirshan, born in Brooklyn, N.Y., received both her Bachelors and Masters degrees from Brooklyn College. She taught elementary school and Special Education classes for the New York City Board of Education.

She also graduated from the Arbeter Ring Yiddish High School (mitlshul) and seminar.

She taught art and batiking for the Brooklyn Skills Exchange. Her batiks were displayed at the Brooklyn Museum.

She has been published in Moment and Lilith magazines, and in the Forward and Palm Beach Post.

She has both a remarkable son, Adam Hirshan, and daughter, Jennifer Cline, who created six smashing daughters. They all light up her life, and come to visit in Boynton Beach, Fla., which is her retirement home.

In retirement, Marjorie has lectured for Brandeis and wrote and designed a Women's Hagode to run a seder for them.

She has chaired a Yiddish Club and a Book Club for twenty years, and they're still going; she also created a newspaper for her community.

With free time now, she is working on a novel, "A Cup of Tea in a Glass", for young adults to love poetry, to appreciate their bobes (grandmas)and the ways of the older generation of Jews in America.

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