In this Book

Journey to a Nineteenth-Century Shtetl
summary
Originally published in Warsaw in 1913, this beautifully written memoir offers a panoramic description of the author’s experiences growing up in Kamieniec Litewski, a Polish shtetl connected with many important events in the history of nineteenth-century Eastern European Jewry. Although the way of life portrayed in this memoir has disappeared, the historical, cultural, and folkoric material it contains will be of major interest to historians and general readers alike. Kotik’s story is the saga of a wealthy and influential family through four generations. Masterfully interwoven in this tale are colorful vignettes featuring Kotik’s family and neighbors, including rabbis and zaddikim, merchants and the poor, hasidim and mitnaggedim, scholars and illiterates, believers and heretics, matchmakers and informers, and teachers and musicians. Stories of personal warmth and despair intermingle with descriptions of the rise and decline of Jewish communal institutions and descriptions or the relationships between Jews, Russian authorities, and Polish lords. Such events as the brutal decrees of Tsar Nicholas I, the abolishment of the Jewish communal board known as the Kahal, and the Polish revolts against Russia are reflected in the lives of these people. The English edition includes a complete translation of the first volume of memoirs and contains notes elucidating terms, names, and customs, as well as bibliographical references to the research literature. The book not only acquaints new readers with the talent of a unique storyteller but also presents an important document of Jewish life during a fascinating era.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover, Title Page, Copyright
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  1. Contents
  2. pp. 5-6
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  1. Preface to the English Edition
  2. pp. 7-9
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  1. A Note on the Translation
  2. pp. 11-12
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  1. Abbreviations
  2. p. 13
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  1. Introduction: “Life as It Was”—Yekhezkel Kotik and His Memoirs
  2. pp. 15-98
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  1. My Memoirs, Yekhezkel Kotik
  2. p. 99
  1. Instead of an Introduction
  2. pp. 103-104
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  1. Sholem Aleichem’s Letter to Yekhezkel Kotik
  2. pp. 105-108
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  1. 1. My Town
  2. pp. 109-158
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  1. 2. My Grandfather
  2. pp. 159-176
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  1. 3. The “Panic”
  2. pp. 177-183
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  1. 4. My Father and His Attraction to Hasidism
  2. pp. 184-200
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  1. 5. Yisrael, the Polish Patriot Hasid
  2. pp. 201-210
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  1. 6. The Handshake
  2. pp. 211-217
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  1. 7. The Scandal with the Assessor
  2. pp. 218-221
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  1. 8. My Melamdim
  2. pp. 222-232
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  1. 9. The Kidnappers
  2. pp. 233-241
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  1. 10. The Great Dispute
  2. pp. 242-250
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  1. 11. My Mother’s Unhappiness
  2. pp. 251-258
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  1. 12. The Lords
  2. pp. 259-273
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  1. 13. Berl-Bendet’s Life on the Estate
  2. pp. 274-279
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  1. 14. How We Celebrated the Holidays
  2. pp. 280-291
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  1. 15. The Rebbe Is Dead!
  2. pp. 292-305
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  1. 16. The Fate of a Prodigy
  2. pp. 306-312
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  1. 17. The Garments of Those Days
  2. pp. 313-316
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  1. 18. My First Revolt
  2. pp. 317-324
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  1. 19. The Izbica Hasid
  2. pp. 325-330
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  1. 20. Marriage Negotiations
  2. pp. 331-339
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  1. 21. Liberating the Serfs
  2. pp. 340-348
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  1. 22. The Jews after the Polish Rebellion
  2. pp. 349-355
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  1. 23. “Keep in Step!”
  2. pp. 356-359
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  1. 24. The Debate
  2. pp. 360-366
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  1. 25. “Children, Gather the Coins!”
  2. pp. 367-374
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  1. 26. The Impact of the Bible on Me
  2. pp. 375-382
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  1. 27. The Cholera Epidemic
  2. pp. 383-387
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  1. 28. Grandmother’s Death
  2. pp. 388-397
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  1. 29. Hasidism and Mitnaggedism
  2. pp. 398-410
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  1. Appendix A: Yekhezkel Kotik: List of Publications
  2. pp. 411-412
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  1. Appendix B: Selected Bibliography on Yekhezkel Kotik and His Memoirs
  2. pp. 413-415
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  1. Appendix C: Yekhezkel Kotik’s Genealogy
  2. pp. 417-419
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  1. Notes
  2. pp. 421-479
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  1. Works Cited
  2. pp. 481-511
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  1. Glossary
  2. pp. 513-517
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  1. Indexes of Names, Places, and Subjects
  2. pp. 519-540
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