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Portraits of Our Past: Jews of the German Countryside Hardcover – Jun 1 2001


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 372 pages
  • Publisher: The Jewish Publication Society; 1 edition (June 1 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0827607067
  • ISBN-13: 978-0827607064
  • Product Dimensions: 15.2 x 2.5 x 22.9 cm
  • Shipping Weight: 780 g
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (6 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #1,589,293 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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Product Description

From Publishers Weekly

While many books describe daily life in Eastern European cities and shtetls before the Holocaust, Emily Rose's Portraits of Our Past: Jews of the German Countryside may be unique in highlighting the experiences of rural Jews in 18th- and 19th-century Germany. Through a genealogy research project, Rose came to realize that her understanding of rural German Jews "had been very limited and, in many respects, completely wrong"; this absorbing study weaves her discoveries about her own ancestors' experiences with the larger history of Diaspora Jews in Germany. The book is enhanced by dozens of maps, illustrations and facsimiles.

Copyright 2001 Cahners Business Information, Inc.

Review

.While many books describe daily life in Eastern European cities and shtetls before the Holocaust, Emily Rose's Portraits of Our Past: Jews of the German Countryside may be unique in highlighting the experiences of rural Jews in 18th- and 19th-century Germany. Through a genealogy research project, Rose came to realize that her understanding of rural German Jews .had been very limited and, in many respects, completely wrong.; this absorbing study weaves her discoveries about her own ancestors' experiences with the larger history of Diaspora Jews in Germany..—Publishers Weekly
(Publishers Weekly)

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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By E. Brown on March 3 2002
Format: Hardcover
This is a wonderful, warm, caring book about life and family and problems in the old country and about coming to America to start life anew. The author was inspired to write the book by the two old portraits of ancestors that hung in her childhood home. For five years she researched in the U.S. and Europe about her own ancestors and about the social, political, economic and religious forces that affected them. What she produced is a marvelous book that uses her own ancestors as a sort of everyman to take the reader through the experiences of daily life, social and political struggles, economic disruptions, religious strife, etc. in rural Germany in the 1800s. Anyone with German or German-Jewish ancestry will find this book enlighting, heartwarming, and sobering. The author truly succeeds in the difficult task of making history come alive. Other features of the book include lots of interesting and unusual illustrations, appendices on traditional Jewish life in the villages, guidelines for famly history researchers, and a lengthy bibliography.
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By A Customer on March 21 2002
Format: Hardcover
My father was born in 1904 in a house next to the synagogue in a small village in southern Germany. As the only child and a male, he was born "with a silver spoon in his mouth" and enjoyed his status by constantly getting into trouble with his friends and cousins. But not only did he describe his childhood pranks in an idyllic way, he also told tales of a small place where all the inhabitants knew each other and where Jews and Gentiles lived in harmony. Since my father's stories were in such contrast to those memoirs written later I often wondered if his wonderful boyhood was only the product of his immediate world or if life in these remote villages was so much better than the anti-Semitism of the cities. As a librarian and a tenacious researcher I began to look for an answer in the literature but could not find anything written in English about the history and society of rural Jews from non-rabbinical families.Just recently I have found a meticulously researched and detailed look at the lost culture of the Jews in rural southern Germany. Portraits of Our Past: Jews of the German Countryside by Emily Rose (Jewish Publication Society, 2001) describes the socioeconomic, political and historical lives of my grandparents and great grandparents and opens a window to a distinctive way of life not previously documented. This discovery is even more ironic since the author is a descendant of a family that settled in Chicago in 1857.From 1994-1999, the author spent two months each summer in Germany discovering her heritage and the lost world of rural German Jews. She eventually located 2,600 documents in Wurttemberg archives, some with only a line or two of relevant information, some with hundreds of pages. She examined 1,600 books in English and German.Read more ›
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Format: Hardcover
Through first-hand research in the archives of 18th and 19th century Wurttemberg, Germany, Emily Rose has produced an engaging journal of lives of some real Jewish families in the environs of the Black Forest. The lives she traces from the early 1700's in southern Germany to Davenport, Iowa and the near-north-side of Chicago are those of some of her ancestors, a fact that she uses to great advantage by correlating detailed familial knowledge with objective data from government records and publications of the times. The stories are embellished with over 75 unusual illustrations. The 200 year transition of the Jews in the book from despised beggars and peddlers to established merchants and professionals is told in an authoritative voice, supported with statistical data. There are several instances of Jewish leaders gaining a good measure of esteem in the Christian community, despite a generally hostile public. The author describes the formation of Jewish community organizations, sanctioned by the Wurttemberg government, to cope with medieval anti-Semitic feelings extant in the countryside. In this connection, there emerge several accounts of strong disputes between a central Wurttemberg government that seeks to reduce the restrictions on Jews, against various local governments that oppose such relaxation, acting out of anti-Semitism and commercial competitiveness. As the Jews are permitted to progress from peddlers to more acceptable occupations, and as they begin to assimilate into the larger community, one can see the beginnings of Reform Judaism take form in the Wurttemberg countryside. Good biographies and fascinating history.
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