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Arguing with the storm : stories by Yiddish women writers

by Rhea Tregebov

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302805,486 (4)11
From theshtetl to the New World, from failed revolutions in tsarist Russia to the Holocaust, these Yiddish tales illuminate a lost world from a woman's distinctive perspective. For decades, stories by Yiddish women writers were available only to those who spoke the "mother tongue" of Eastern European Jews. This translation brings some of the "lost" women writers of the golden age of Yiddish to English-speaking readers. Their stories range from the wryly humorous--a girl seeking a wet nurse for her cousin brings him to ashiksa, with dire consequences--to the bittersweet, as a once-idealistic revolutionary now sees her hopes for humanity as "fantasy." The title is from a poem that describes a widow arguing with a storm that threatens her harvest. It is a metaphor for the Holocaust, whose dark cloud was rising.Arguing with the Storm is a joy to read and a tribute to all those women, who, in arguing with the storm, fought to protect their families and way of life. The anthology includes works by Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn, Bryna Bercovitch, Anne Viderman, Malka Lee, Frume Halpern, Rochel Bruches, Paula Frankel-Zaltzman, Chava Rosenfarb, and Rikuda Potash. Rhea Tregebov teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia and is the author of six critically acclaimed books of poetry, most recently(alive): Poems New and Selected. She collected these tales with the help of the Winnipeg Women's Yiddish Reading Circle.… (more)
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beautiful, beautiful, but damn hard to get through. still working on it, hoping for a single story with some sort of positive ending. ( )
  hurricanehanna | Apr 6, 2013 |
In 2000, a group of senior Jewish women in Winnipeg, intrigued by the large Yiddish collection at the Winnipeg Public Library, decided to form a reading circle for discussion of these works. Concerned that these works would be lost, they began to translate the stories and memoirs, and this book is the result.

Although the women represented here are all Eastern European, they led varied lives, some active in the worlds of literature and journalism, others not so much. Some emigrated, to the United States, to Canada, to Palestine (as it was then); others were lost in the Holocaust. All had something to say.

The works of the nine writers represented here range geographically from the shtetl to Miami Beach, in time from the 1905 Revolution to the present. The characters are young women and old, country and city dwellers, immigrants, Holocaust survivors, and their children and grandchildren. Some are funny, some somber, some in between.

If your idea of the shtetl was formed by "Fiddler on the Roof", read Rochel Broches devastating account of the short life of mamzers in "Little Abrahams" or Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn's "No More Rabbi!" Hamer-Jacklyn and Frume Halpern write movingly of the plight of older women, the search for stability and love. Bryna Bercovitch and Paula Frankel-Zaltzman are represented by their memoirs, the one of life in the Ukraine, the other of the Dvinsk ghetto.

We owe the Winnipeg Women's Yiddish Reading Circle a debt of gratitude for rescuing these stories from the library's dusty shelves, and making them available to a new audience.
5 vote lilithcat | Mar 28, 2009 |
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From theshtetl to the New World, from failed revolutions in tsarist Russia to the Holocaust, these Yiddish tales illuminate a lost world from a woman's distinctive perspective. For decades, stories by Yiddish women writers were available only to those who spoke the "mother tongue" of Eastern European Jews. This translation brings some of the "lost" women writers of the golden age of Yiddish to English-speaking readers. Their stories range from the wryly humorous--a girl seeking a wet nurse for her cousin brings him to ashiksa, with dire consequences--to the bittersweet, as a once-idealistic revolutionary now sees her hopes for humanity as "fantasy." The title is from a poem that describes a widow arguing with a storm that threatens her harvest. It is a metaphor for the Holocaust, whose dark cloud was rising.Arguing with the Storm is a joy to read and a tribute to all those women, who, in arguing with the storm, fought to protect their families and way of life. The anthology includes works by Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn, Bryna Bercovitch, Anne Viderman, Malka Lee, Frume Halpern, Rochel Bruches, Paula Frankel-Zaltzman, Chava Rosenfarb, and Rikuda Potash. Rhea Tregebov teaches creative writing at the University of British Columbia and is the author of six critically acclaimed books of poetry, most recently(alive): Poems New and Selected. She collected these tales with the help of the Winnipeg Women's Yiddish Reading Circle.

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