JEWISH GRANDMOTHERS by Sydelle & Jenny Masur--Eds. Kramer


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At last a responsible and effective tribute to that much maligned, too often ignored, sometimes thunderous family irritant--the Jewish grandmother. These are taped accounts of ten women living in the Chicago area, most now in their eighties, who emigrated, alone or with families, from Eastern Europe long ago. All experienced real difficulties and dangers, and their memories of the terrifying delays, shipboard hardships and bewildering first days in the USA are sharp and fresh. Although the concern of Old World parents may have primarily been a release from poverty or persecution, for the young girls America meant the chance for the independence, education and experience denied them in Europe because they were poor, Jews, or simply girls. ""And I told my parents,"" remembers one, ""I want to go to America. I want to learn. I want to see a life, and I want to go to school."" Sometimes reminiscently, sometimes half-apologetically, the women describe their young selves as ""rebel,"" or ""wild,"" or ""aggressive."" There is one who spoke up for the sweatshop workers to the boss; another who answered an anti-Semitic taunt by yanking the heckler off a swing by her hair. And they were delightfully high-handed with the men. The personal narratives of those who fought and won the battle for survival are fascinating (and they have been beautifully edited for idiomatic flavor). Perhaps their own children won't listen--who wants to hear about bubbe's trip in steerage again?--but everyone else will.

Pub Date: Jan. 9th, 1975
Publisher: Beacon