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European Jewry



The Letters Project: A Legendary Journey
by Eleanor Reissa

In 1986, when her mother died at the age of 64, Eleanor Reissa went through all of her belongings. In the back of her mother’s lingerie drawer, she found an old leather purse. Inside that purse was a large wad of folded papers. They were letters. Fifty-six of them. In German. Written in 1949. Letters from her father to her mother, when they were courting. 

Just four years earlier, he had fought to stay alive in Auschwitz and on the Death March while she had spent the war years suffering in Uzbekistan. Thirty years later, Eleanor — a theatre artist who has been on the forefront of keeping Yiddish alive — finally had the letters translated. The particulars of those letters send her off on an unimaginable adventure into the past, forever changing her and anyone who listens to this book.

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This book is also available as an audio book and Kindle through Amazon.


We Are Here
by Ellen Cassedy

Ellen Cassedy set off into the Jewish heartland of Lithuania to study Yiddish and connect with her Jewish forebears. Then her uncle, a Holocaust survivor, pulled a worn slip of paper from his pocket. “Read this,” he said.

When she did, she learned something she had never suspected, and what had begun as a personal quest expanded into a larger exploration of memory and moral dilemmas in a nation scarred by genocide. Cassedy’s deeply felt account offers important insights – and hope.


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Jacob's Courage
by Charles S. Weinblatt

How would you feel if, at age seventeen, the government removed you from school, evicted you from your home, looted your bank account and took all of your family's possessions? How would you feel if ruthless police prevented your parents from working and then deported you and your loved ones to a prison camp run by brutal taskmasters? How would you feel if you suddenly lost contact with everyone that you know and love? How would you feel if you were sent to the most frightening place in history, and then forced to perform unspeakable acts of horror in order to remain alive?

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The Holocaust


Harvest of Blossoms: Poems From a Life Cut Short
by Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger

"Selma Meerbaum-Eisinger died in a Nazi SS labor camp on December 17, 1942. She was eighteen. In the course of a life cut short, Selma reached out to the world with poetry, and her words grabbed life, even as the world around her was slipping into an arena of death. During these grim times, she wrote more than fifty poems in German and translated another five from Yiddish, French, and Romanian. With startling honesty, she wrote about love and heartbreak, desire and loss, injustice and marred hope. Selma found beauty in the fragility of chestnuts, comfort in the loneliness of rain, and grief in rural poverty and, with despairing courage, faced a future that wanted her--and an entire way of being--to 'fade like smoke and leave no trace' ('Tragedy')..."   more ››

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"The Rest of Us": The Rise of American's Eastern European Jews
by Stephen Birmingham

The last addition to Stephen Birmingham’s historical trilogy, following "Our Crowd" and The Grandees, "The Rest of Us" recounts the immigration of Eastern European Jews to America in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Birmingham spotlights the successes of several of these famous immigrants, including Samuel Goldwyn, Benny (Bugsy) Siegel, Helena Rubinstein, and Irving Berlin.

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Living in America:
The Jewish Experience




Gangsters vs. Nazis: How Jewish Mobsters Battled Nazis in Wartime America
by Michael Benson

As Adolph Hitler rose to power in 1930s Germany, a growing wave of fascism began to take root on American soil. Nazi activists started to gather in major American cities, and by 1933, there were more than one-hundred anti-Semitic groups operating openly in the United States. Few Americans dared to speak out or fight back—until an organized resistance of notorious mobsters waged their own personal war against the Nazis in their midst. Gangland-style. . . .

In this thrilling blow-by-blow account, acclaimed crime writer Michael Benson uncovers the shocking truth about the insidious rise of Nazism in America—and the Jewish mobsters who stomped it out. 

Packed with surprising, little-known facts, graphic details, and unforgettable personalities, Gangsters vs. Nazis chronicles the mob’s most ruthless tactics in taking down fascism—inspiring ordinary Americans to join them in their fight. The book culminates in one of the most infamous events of the pre-war era—the 1939 Nazi rally in Madison Square Garden—in which law-abiding citizens stood alongside hardened criminals to fight for the soul of a nation. This is the story of the mob that’s rarely told—one of the most fascinating chapters in American history and American organized crime.

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The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902: Immigrant Housewives and the Riots that Shook New York City
by Scott D. Seligman

In the wee hours of May 15, 1902, three thousand Jewish women quietly took up positions on the streets of Manhattan’s Lower East Side. Convinced by the latest jump in the price of kosher meat that they were being gouged, they assembled in squads of five, intent on shutting down every kosher butcher shop in New York’s Jewish quarter.

What was conceived as a nonviolent effort did not remain so for long. Customers who crossed the picket lines were heckled and assaulted, their parcels of meat hurled into the gutters. Butchers who remained open were attacked, their windows smashed, stocks ruined, equipment destroyed. Brutal blows from police nightsticks sent women to local hospitals and to court. But soon Jewish housewives throughout the area took to the streets in solidarity, while the butchers either shut their doors or had them shut for them. The newspapers called it a modern Jewish Boston Tea Party.

The Great Kosher Meat War of 1902 tells the twin stories of mostly uneducated female immigrants who discovered their collective consumer power and of the Beef Trust, the midwestern cartel that conspired to keep meat prices high despite efforts by the U.S. government to curtail its nefarious practices. With few resources and little experience but a great deal of steely determination, this group of women organized themselves into a potent fighting force and, in their first foray into the political arena in their adopted country, successfully challenged powerful vested corporate interests and set a pattern for future generations to follow.

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Jewish Life in America: During the Great Depression (series)
by Meish Goldish

What was life like during the Great Depression? The 1930s were a difficult time for everyone. The stock market crashed, banks closed, and many people lost their money, their jobs, and their homes. In this engrossing book, children will learn about the daily life of Jewish families during this time — the homes they lived in, the foods they ate, the schools they went to, the work they did, and the games they played. Jewish Life in America during the Great Depression is part of The Way It Was, a series of fascinating books about everyday Jewish life in American history. Each volume includes authentic photos and eyewitness accounts, as well as engaging text and design.

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The Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn
by Ellen Levitt

"Jewish life in Brownsville, East New York, Flatbush-East Flatbush, Bedford-Stuyvesant and other nearby areas of Brooklyn through the 1950s was a lively, rich and varied environment. Over the next few decades it dissipated greatly. As Jews moved to other areas, they left behind their synagogues. The 'Lost Synagogues of Brooklyn' is a photographic essay of these ex-shuls; what happened to them, and how they appear today. Many became churches whose facades still have Jewish symbols.

The book offers photographs, interviews and analysis on ninety-one of these former Jewish houses of worship. Some have been faithfully preserved while others are in disrepair. Described in the book are memories of Jews who belonged to these old congregations as well as the Christians who now fill the pews. All this is supported by extensive research and stirring stories..."
To read a few excerpts from this book, click here ››


Going Back to Brooklyn
by Martin L. Blumberg

Martin L. Blumberg's first book " My Brooklyn, My Way," released in January, 2020 at the start of the pandemic has received rave reviews and chosen #46 for being one of the best books written about Brooklyn.

In his latest book, "Going Back To Brooklyn," you would get the experience once again, of your fond childhood memories of that greatest era.

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The Jewish Quarter of Philadelphia: A History and Guide 1881-1930
By Harry D. Boonin

The Jewish quarter was the area around 5th & South Streets in Philadelphia where immigrant Jews began to settle after the 1882 Russian and Polish pogroms.  Soon the area was crowded with pickle barrels, pavement salesman, peddlers, market hucksters, horse droppings, small shop owners, sewing machine operators, runners going to and fro from wholesale clothiers, sweatshops, synagogues, Yiddish theatres, immigrant banks, bathhouses, mikvehs, yeshivas and Talmud Torahs.  These sites, sounds and smells are described in the book which Stephen Frank—Collections Curator, National Museum of American Jewish History, Philadelphia—wrote is “…fascinating – full of wonderful detail and color…” more ››

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Yiddish Theatre


Tevye's Daughters- No Laughing Matter: The Women behind the Story of Fiddler on the Roof
by Jan Lisa Huttner

In this surprising book, Jan Lisa Huttner turns the focus of Fiddler on the Roof fans away from Tevye and onto his daughters.

What is tradition? Who makes the matches? Should people who want to marry each other be allowed to make that choice? These questions are just as important now as they were fifty years ago —in 1964 — when Fiddler on the Roof made its original debut on the Broadway stage.

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New York's Yiddish Theater: From the Bowery to Broadway
by Edna Nahshon

In the early decades of the twentieth century, a vibrant theatrical culture took shape on New York City's Lower East Side. Original dramas, comedies, musicals, and vaudeville, along with sophisticated productions of Shakespeare, Ibsen, and Chekhov, were innovatively staged for crowds that rivaled the audiences on Broadway. Though these productions were in Yiddish and catered to Eastern European, Jewish audiences (the largest immigrant group in the city at the time), their artistic innovations, energetic style, and engagement with politics and the world around them came to influence all facets of the American stage.

Vividly illustrated and with essays from leading historians and critics, this book recounts the heyday of "Yiddish Broadway" and its vital contribution to American Jewish life and crossover to the broader American culture. These performances grappled with Jewish nationalism, labor relations, women's rights, religious observance, acculturation, and assimilation. They reflected a range of genres, from tear-jerkers to experimental theater. The artists who came of age in this world include Stella Adler, Eddie Cantor, Jerry Lewis, Sophie Tucker, Mel Brooks, and Joan Rivers. The story of New York's Yiddish theater is a tale of creativity and legacy and of immigrants who, in the process of becoming Americans, had an enormous impact on the country's cultural and artistic development.

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Yiddish Empire: The Vilna Troupe, Jewish Theater, and the Art of Itinerancy
by Debra Caplan

Yiddish Empire tells the story of how a group of itinerant Jewish performers became the interwar equivalent of a viral sensation, providing a missing chapter in the history of the modern stage. During World War I, a motley group of teenaged amateurs, impoverished war refugees, and out- of- work Russian actors banded together to revolutionize the Yiddish stage. Achieving a most unlikely success through their productions, the Vilna Troupe (1915– 36) would eventually go on to earn the attention of theatergoers around the world. Advancements in modern transportation allowed Yiddish theater artists to reach global audiences, traversing not only cities and districts but also countries and continents. The Vilna Troupe routinely performed in major venues that had never before allowed Jews, let alone Yiddish, upon their stages, and operated across a vast territory, a strategy that enabled them to attract unusually diverse audiences to the Yiddish stage and a precursor to the organizational structures and travel patterns that we see now in contemporary theater. Debra Caplan’s history of the Troupe is rigorously researched, employing primary and secondary sources in multiple languages, and is engagingly written.

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Messiahs of 1933:
How American Yiddish Theatre Survived Adversity through Satire

From the author, Joel Schechter:

"The book opens with discussion of Nadir’s play, Messiah in America, and a speculative discussion of what might have happened if his play, as well as Yiddish language and culture were more widely known by Americans in the 1930s.  I suggest that Yiddish stage satire was not as far removed from mainstream American culture as it now appears to be; the language in which it was performed kept it separate from other political and popular theatre, but it made important contributions to American culture..."  more ›>

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Family Research



Annie's Ghosts: A Journey into a Family Secret
by Steve Luxenberg

"The homework assignment seems clear enough: Do a family tree. I turn the paper sideways, and in no time at all, I’ve filled Dad’s side with brothers and sisters, aunts and uncles, first and second cousins, more than two dozen names from Michigan and elsewhere. I’ve met them all at one family gathering or another, so I can jot down their names and draw the lines without asking Dad or Mom for help.

On Mom’s side, though, I’ve reached a dead end after just three names—Mom, Bubbe and Zayde. I’ve heard Mom mention an uncle, but I don’t know his name or where he lives or whether he’s related to Bubbe or Zayde. And did Mom once say something about a cousin, or am I making that up? " Read more ››

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A Breed Apart: A Miraculous Escape from Russia: From DP Camp to Columbia University and Beyond
by Professor Miriam Hoffman

A Remarkable Historical Journey and Legacy

From Siberia to Columbia University, this epic tale of war and survival is seen through the eyes of a young Miriam Hoffman and her father, Chaim Schmulewitz, a well-respected columnist of the Yiddish press Undzerweg.

Highly personal and historic, A Breed Apart brings to light the oppression of the Soviet regime, the five-year history of the Displaced Persons Refugee Camps (DP camps) in Germany from 1946 to 1951, the struggles of post–World War II anti-Semitism, and Professor Hoffman’s coming of age in America.

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