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Sholom Aleichem

The Writer as Social Historian


Anna Halberstam-Rubin

In the western reaches of the Russian Empire lies the «Pale of Settlement». Trapped in its shtetlach; surrounded by hostility on all sides, are the bulk of Russia's Jews. Historian Anna Halberstam-Rubin has written a fascinating book - drawing on the original stories of the Yiddish humorist Sholom Aleichem - in which she portrays life in the Pale. She describes not only the various forms of oppression, poverty and degradation of the victims, but also their response - the institutions and defenses they adopted to retain their spirit. By focusing throughout on the impact of events on people, the author supplies the human link so often missing from conventional accounts of history.
Contents: Jews are trapped in the «Pale of Settlement» under savage conditions: second-class citizenship, poverty, pogroms, internal division and mass exodus - based on the works of Sholom Aleichem, the Yiddish humorist who experienced it.
Sholom Aleichem offers a front seat to events he himself experienced - thus historical objectivity of a rare kind. Emotional impact of events on people - captured here - is history one remembers!