Tears Over Russia: A Search for Family and the Legacy of Ukraine’s Pogroms

Pegasus. Jun. 2022. 334p. ISBN 9781639361670. $28.95. BIOG
With curiosity spurred by her grandmother’s stories, genealogist Brahin spent years reconstructing an overlooked historical period that pre-dates the Holocaust but is in many ways a taste of the bitter sorrows to come. The sweeping reconstruction of this family story focuses primarily on Stavyshche, a poor Ukrainian village outside Kyiv, exposing nascent Eastern European antisemitism amidst the chaotic geo-political changes in early 20th century Russia and Ukraine which resulted in nearly 200,000 Jewish dead and massive emigration to America. While reading this sort of shtetl history, readers might wish the book had included a family tree, as the names and relationships sometimes overwhelm. However, its focus on the lives of everyday Jews provides an absorbing perspective on the brutal sweep of history. While certainly an elegy to Jews dead, first by pogroms and later the Nazis, it is also a celebration of the essential work of librarians, archivists and genealogists. The bibliography alone makes this a valuable resource. This family history of Kyiv is especially potent in this season of Russian-Ukrainian strife, ironically with a Ukrainian Jew now at the helm.
VERDICT Timely and essential reading.
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