|Miller, Lily Poritz and Olga Zabludoff, editors
A Thousand Threads:
A Story Told Through Yiddish Letters.
Trans. by Miriam Beckerman,
Lily Poritz Miller and Olga Zabludoff.
Washington, D.C.: Remembrance Books, 2005.
319 p. $24.95 (ISBN 0-9669349-1-1).
A Thousand Threads: A Story Told Through Yiddish Letters
chronicles the life of Tzvi Shapiro as a young immigrate from Lithuania
living in Cuba in the mid-1920s. In 1923, Shapiro at age 18 years old
leaves his Lithuanian shtetl Butrimantz to avoid the military draft. His
first desire is to go to New York City to be with his older half-brother
Abraham I. Shapiro, a successful attorney and director of the Hebrew
Immigration Aid Society. That dream is thwarted when the United States
creates new immigrations quotas and Tzvi begins his nearly five-year
odyssey in Havana as he awaits an American visa.
A major part of this collection of letters is his correspondence with
immediate and extended family members in Lithuania and the United
States during that wait. Chief among the correspondents is Sarah, Tzvi's
sister, who provides a vital link to his family.
The old Yiddish letters, discovered after Shapiro's death,
offer a touching glimpse of village life in Eastern Europe between the
world wars and immigrant life in the small but thriving Jewish
community of several thousand in Havana during the 1920s.
Indeed, the collection tells a richly layered, engaging tale
of family bonds and struggles, individual courage and frustration,
communal attachments and isolation.
The letters are organized chronologically
and cover the years 1905 to 1960.
The editors provide in the book's introduction a helpful list
of correspondents, their relation to each other,
and their Yiddish and Hebrew names. Explanatory
notes are available throughout and a brief glossary of terms is
supplied. The letters are indexed in the back using the English names
of each of the correspondents.
Recommended for synagogue and public libraries.
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