A World Apart: A Memoir of Jewish Life in Nineteenth Century Galicia

A World Apart: A Memoir of Jewish Life in Nineteenth Century Galicia

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Joseph Margoshes
Translated from Yiddish by Rebecca Margolis and Ira Robinson

Series: Judaism and Jewish Life
ISBN: 9781934843109 (hardcover) / 9781934843635 (paper)
Pages: 204 pp.
Publication Date: September 2008

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In 1936, Joseph Margoshes (1866–1955), a writer for the New York Yiddish daily Morgen Journal, published a memoir of his youth in Austro-Hungarian Galicia entitled Erinerungen fun mayn leben. In this autobiography, he evoked a world that had been changed almost beyond recognition as a result of the First World War and was shortly to be completely obliterated by the Holocaust. In telling his story, Margoshes gives the reader important insights into the many-faceted Jewish life of Austro-Hungarian Galicia. We read of the Orthodox and the Enlightened, urban and rural life, Jews and their gentile neighbors, and much more. This book is an important evocation of an entire Jewish society and civilization and bears comparison with Yehiel Yeshaia Trunk’s masterful evocation of Jewish life in Poland, Poyln.

This delightful memoir . . . is rich in descriptions of traditional education, famous (and not so famous) rabbis, the process of modernization and change, as well as many topics relevant to social and cultural history. The picture Margoshes offers is honest, detailed, and with little romanticization or sentimentality. The book is very well translated and preserves the flavor of the Yiddish original without sacrificing readability. The vivid descriptions of religious life make this a useful primary source, especially on Hasidic life, for students who are limited to English, and it can easily be used to illustrate more abstract theories and models. The index adds to the usefulness of the book.
— Shaul Stampfer, Hebrew University, in the Religious Studies Review (June 2009)
An absorbing and entertaining work as well as a matter-of-fact narrative full of gripping detail. . . . It is to be hoped that this historical narrative will find many readers eager to plunge into the rich and colourful cultural and ideological worlds of Eastern European Jewry before the Shoah.
— Desanka Schwara, University of Bern, in East European Jewish Affairs