By Roger Cohen
An intimate and profoundly relocating Jewish kinfolk history—a tale of displacement, prejudice, wish, melancholy, and love.
In this luminous memoir, award-winning New York instances columnist Roger Cohen turns a compassionate but discerning eye at the legacy of his personal forebears. As he follows them throughout continents and many years, mapping person lives that diverge and intertwine, very important styles of fight and resilience, valued history and evolving loyalties (religious, ethnic, national), converge right into a resonant portrait of cultural identification within the sleek age.
Beginning within the 19th century and carrying on with via to the current day, Cohen tracks his family’s tale of repeated upheaval, from Lithuania to South Africa, after which to England, the USA, and Israel. it's a story of otherness marked through overt and latent anti-Semitism, but in addition otherness as a feeling of inheritance. We see Cohen’s relatives develop roots in every one followed fatherland while they fight to beat the lack of what's left at the back of and to adapt—to the racism his mom and dad witness in apartheid-era South Africa, to the time-honored ostracism an uncle from Johannesburg faces after combating opposed to Hitler throughout Europe, to the ambivalence an Israeli cousin reviews while tasked with policing the occupied West Bank.
At the center of The lady from Human Street is the strong and touching courting among Cohen and his mom, that “girl.” Tortured by means of the upheavals in her lifestyles but stoic in her fight, she embodies her son’s advanced inheritance.
Graceful, sincere, and sweeping, Cohen’s outstanding chronicle of the search for belonging throughout generations contributes an enormous bankruptcy to the continuing narrative of Jewish lifestyles.
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Extra resources for The Girl from Human Street: Ghosts of Memory in a Jewish Family
The two issues cannot be addressed entirely separately. However pathological, however criminal, however ideologically motivated certain of Szajkowski’s acts were, he would not have undertaken such risky activities had there not been willing buyers. These buyers provided a market that made his thefts profitable and, tacitly, an alibi that made them morally acceptable. Understanding their worldview as well allows us to deepen our understanding of Szajkowski’s passion. Both Szajkowski and those who bought Judaica from him can be understood only when we answer a larger set of questions.
Following its destruction during World War I, some of its Jews had left for the nearby cities of Warsaw and Bialystok, and others had ventured even farther, to New York and Paris. Returning home to visit their rebuilt hometown, they saw that the Zarombers were growing increasingly impoverished. 3 Nevertheless, the Zarombers were energetically embracing the same ideas as Jews in Poland’s larger cities. New movements were remaking the political, social, and cultural fabric of life in the little town and changing the way its Jews defined their very identities.
He had had little opportunity to learn such methods. His formal education had ended at age fifteen when he left Warsaw’s State Seminary for Teachers of the Mosaic Faith, a school that trained teachers qualified to offer the course on Judaism in the Polish public school system. High as the quality of this modern, secular school appears to have been, Szajkowski was a mediocre student there, earning mostly the equivalent of Cs. 37 Nevertheless, Szajkowski was now in a different state of mind, and working with Tcherikower yielded impressive results.
The Girl from Human Street: Ghosts of Memory in a Jewish Family by Roger Cohen