Daughter of the Shtetl: The Memoirs of Doba-Mera Medvedeva

Daughter of the Shtetl: The Memoirs of Doba-Mera Medvedeva

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Doba-Mera Medvedeva
Translated by Alice Nakhimovsky
Edited and introduced by Michael Beizer and Alice Nakhimovsky

Series: Jews of Russia & Eastern Europe and Their Legacy
ISBN: 9781618114358 (hardcover) / 9781618114365 (paper)
Pages: 210 pp.; 11 illus.
Publication Date: April 2019


Doba-Mera Medvedeva belongs to a vanishingly small group of memoirists who are neither elite nor highly literate, but whose observations from the ground cast a vivid light on a lost world. The book reveals the quarrelsome underside of shtetl life at a time of scarce resources, and describes how Doba-Mera survives two pogroms and two world wars. Around 1905, barely a teenager but already earning a living, she joins Marxist circles and takes part in clandestine activities. Through her eyes we experience the class divisions in shtetl and synagogue, as well as aspects of everyday life such as education, courtship and marriage, housing, food, illness, and the organization of the working life and working conditions in sewing shops.

Alice Nakhimovsky is Distinguished Professor of Jewish Studies and Professor of Russian and Eurasian Studies at Colgate University. She is best known for her book Russian Jewish Literature and Identity (Johns Hopkins, 1991). Her latest book, Dear Mendel, Dear Reyzel: Yiddish Letter Manuals in Russia and America (Indiana University Press, 2015), written with Roberta Newman, won a National Jewish Book Award.

Historian Michael Beizer of Hebrew University, Jerusalem, is the author of numerous books and articles on Russian Jewry. His Jews of St. Petersburg, out in three languages, was a groundbreaking study of a group whose existence, at the time, was barely acknowledged. His latest book is Relief in a time of Need: Russian Jewry and the Joint, 1919-1924 (Slavica, 2015).

Table of Contents

Translator’s Note

My Babushka and Her Memoirs
Michael Beizer

A Unique Memoirist in Turbulent Times
Alice Nakhimovsky

Doba-Mera Izrailevna Medvedeva (Gurevich)