Busting the Shtetl Myth

What you think you know about Jewish life in Eastern Europe is wrong, argues a fascinating (but problematic) new book.
From the cover of  The Golden Age Shtetl by Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern.
From the cover of The Golden Age Shtetl by Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern.
Observation
Andrew N. Koss
Aug. 20 2014

“Deconstructing Fiddler on the Roof” is a favorite gambit of professors introducing students to the history of East European Jewry: begin with what they think they know about life in the shtetl, and then start busting the myths. Were matchmakers women? (No.) Did Russian police instigate pogroms? (Rarely, if ever.) Is there a single documented case of shtetl residents singing “Sunrise, Sunset” at a wedding? (Come on.)

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More about: Eastern Europe, European Jewry, Fiddler on the Roof, Jewish history, Shtetl