My Life Within Jewish Life in Poland, Sketches and Images
University of Toronto Press, 9780802093301, 167pp.
Publication Date: September 1, 2007
Originally published between 1944 and 1953, Poyln (Poland) is one of the treasures of Yiddish literature. Despite its reputation, the book has not been fully translated into English until now. Written by Yehiel Yeshaia Trunk, a prominent Polish Jewish writer, Poyln is a colourful epic, a moving testimony, and an important primary historical source that presents a portrait of Polish Jewry against the backdrop of the Nazi genocide.
The undisputed hero of the story is the national community of Polish Jews. To portray this community, Trunk creates a rich gallery of characters - Hassidic patricians, timber merchants, rich landowners, brilliant Talmudists, Orthodox rabbis, and Hasidic tsadikim. He also depicts ordinary village and small-town Jews, artisans, shopkeepers, workers, and Luftmenschen, all of them members of one extended family. Particularly valuable aspects of Poyln are its examination of different trends in the Hasidic movement and the author's attempt to bridge the gap between his secular generation and its religious ancestors. In short, Trunk's work aims to show Jewishness as a way of life.
This is the first instalment of a multi-volume edition of Poyln, the first English translation to be published. Here begins a story of the beauty and pathos of the world of Polish Jewry, a world that was almost totally destroyed by the Nazis.