Writings on Yiddish and Yiddishkayt: The War Years, 1939–1945

White Goat. Nov. 2023. 200p. ed. by David Stromberg. tr. from Yiddish by David Stromberg by Yiddish by David Stromberg. ISBN 9798988677307. $24.95. LIT
This collection of works by Singer (1904–91) is derived from the critical, tragic, and transformative years of World War II. Singer, winner of the Nobel Prize in 1978, wrote in both English and Yiddish and addressed subjects including Jewish law, the interplay of ancient tradition with modern life, marriage and divorce, the rise of fascism, the conflict unfolding in Europe, Kabbalistic tradition, and more. Through this collection, readers get a view into the everyday life of the European shtetl in the first half of the 20th century. In “Agunot,” Singer discusses wives unable to remarry after being abandoned; in the 1941 essay “Jews Would Oppose Nazis Even If Fascists and Hitlerites Were Not Antisemites,” he provides a contemporary Jewish reaction to Mein Kampf; in “Hanukkah Candles and the History They Tell,” he argues that achievements lead to new challenges for both individuals and nations. There is also a Judaic, biblical vantage point of the contemporaneous destruction of the empire that tried to annihilate Jewish people. This collection’s editor and translator, Stromberg, provides a biographical introduction.
VERDICT A solid collection of Yiddish thought from an esteemed writer, at a pivotal time in Jewish history.
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