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November 23, 1984 - Image 18

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1984-11-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

18

Friday, November 23, 1984 '111 14 MOIT JEWISH NEWS

Stanley H. Kaplan

PURELY COMMENTARY

The SMART MOVE!
SAT • ACT

PREPARATION FOR:

(313) 569-5320

Continued from Page 2

tc;Litt (24+i .

KAPLAN

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and old studying by them-
selves in the shul or besmed-
resh, most of the shtetl Jews
spent the day at work, either at
home or in the marketplace.
When the men finished with
morning prayer, they too
would go off to work — as mer-
chants, cobblers, tailors,
butchers, bakers, tanners,
glaziers, blacksmiths,
peddlers, water carriers, horse
traders, tavernkeepers and
teamsters.
The shtetl was the closest
thing to a city in a rural
environment. Jews in Eastern
Europe were mainly urban
dwellers engaged in com-
merce, trade, and skilled work.
They provided handicrafts
and goods and services for the
local farmers.
The shtetl, the connotation for a
small city, is represented in this
remarkable book as a model of a
community that was thriving
with life and left an inerasable
mark on Jewish history.
The Paper Shtetl is what the
title designates. It is a paper book
intended for cutouts for children,
and from it they will, when prop-
erly introduced, create pleasure

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and learning about a generation
that must not be forgotten. This is
just what this book does: it asks
for non-forgetfulness about an il-
lustrious age.
Adults, sharing this book with
youth, will reconstruct memories
about the shtetl heder, about the
synagogue, weddings which as-
sumed a communal interest. The
shtetl emerges here as a sym-
bolised Jewish family — all shar-
ing, mutuality becoming sym-
bolic.
Indeed, "My Shtetl means my
community," as emphasized by
the author and illustrator, is a
message about an unforgettable
age, an invitation to glorify it.

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the proper way; otherwise
even the meat of a kosher ani-
mal (a cow, sheep, or chicken)
would not be kosher.
Once a shtetl got established,
a plot of land was purchased
for a burial ground, which was
generally outside of town. Not
until a shtetl had its own
cemetery was it truly consid-
ered a Kehillah Kedoshah, a
Holy Community in Israel.
Last, but not least, was the
synagogue, or shul. In Eastern
Europe most synagogues were
built of wood, but some were
made of stone or masonry.
With a shul of its own, the
shtetl could then hire a rov
(rabbi), a khazn (cantor), and a
shames (synagogue attendant).
Another popular misconcep-
tion about the shtetl is that all
people did all day was pray
and study. For one thing, study
was reserved for men, while
women were busy taking care
of the children, running a
business, or otherwise earning
a living. Older sisters would
take care of infants, and boys
were sent off to heder from the
age of three. Although you
could always find young men

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