A BINTEL BRIEF, VOLUME II: Letters to the Jewish Daily Forward, 1950-1980 by Isaac--Ed. Metzker

A BINTEL BRIEF, VOLUME II: Letters to the Jewish Daily Forward, 1950-1980

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Understandably, this small second sampling from the advice column of America's great Yiddish-language newspaper doesn't have as much humor, pathos, or gusto as Volume I; there are few right-off-the-boat immigrants in this later period, and the problems of these aging immigrants and their families are often indistinguishable from Dear Abby's correspondents. So lots of these letters are about stingy husbands, grieving widows, neglectful kids, unpleasant sisters-in-law, interfering mothers-in-law, problematic wedding arrangements, and: ""How does one tear a woman away from the Bingo obsession?"" But there are also quite a few poignant letters reflecting the problems of Jews in late-20th-century America--Holocaust-haunted, increasingly Americanized. Adoption problems arising from the handling of Holocaust orphans. Decisions on whether or not to help European relatives come to America. Offspring who turn their backs on religion and tradition. (""He let his hair grow long, and he goes around with a bunch of Christians."") Mixed marriages--though the Forward editors scrupulously avoid giving any opinions on religious matters. Empty synagogues. And, while many of the answers to the letters seem a bit too wishy-washy and platitudinous, some are amusing as they see both sides (""It may be that you are a bit too fussy, but your mother should understand that you can't marry just anyone""); and occasionally the Forward's Dear Abbela gets downright familial: ""When we read your letter we realized that you were the kind of man who is a weakling, whose wife can make a nothing of him. . . . It is hard to give advice to a man like you."" Some modest amusement, some touching sociological footnotes, and a great deal of everyday kvetching--a nice enough way for non-Yiddish-readers to stay in touch with a fading subculture.

Pub Date: Oct. 1st, 1981
Publisher: Viking