From the Author
Co-Author Jonathan Boyarin explains how the book came to be
In the early 1980s, Jack Kugelmass presented an excerpt from a Polish Jewish memorial book to his seminar in Jewish ethnography. It was an evocative and perhaps fictional memoir of a Jewish miller?s special relationship with the Polish peasants who lived nearby. I told Jack it was a great story, and he told me that the ??yizker-bikher??, or memorial books, were full of material like it. I said, ??Let?s do a book!?? and we did. In the memorial books I found what I?d been looking for: a bridge to the daily life of Polish Jews before the war, a sense of what shaped their world and how they tried to shape it in turn. And that is what Jack and I, through selecting and translating these excerpts into English, have aimed to convey to you in turn. There?s sadness here, of course, but there?s a tremendous amount of creativity and exuberance reflected in this collective portrait as well. In our introduction Jack and I explain how the production of the memorial books by survivors after the war helped with the process of mourning and making new lives. But for the most part, we didn?t ??write?? this book: we?re merely passing it on, so I don?t think I?m boasting if I tell you its contents are a buried treasure. And Zachary Baker?s bibliography documents how much more treasure is waiting to be discovered.