My Life: From a Russian Shtetl to the Golden Land by Samuel Osipow
Samuel Osipow was born in 1883 in the Russian shtetl (Yiddish for town) of Liadi, lost to World War II. In his colorful and lyrical autobiography, My Life: From a Russian Shtetl to the Golden Land, Liadi lives again. Its Jewish holy days; Osipow's loving mother Rishe Ranyeh; his pious, Hebrew teacher father Nachum; cousins Izzy the Tiny One and Chonale the Monster; dreaded teacher Kulye the Ox; nemesis Itse the One-Eyed; and local legend Avreml the Yeast Maker all come back to life.
Osipow's father forces him to study scripture day and night to become a rabbi, but at 16, he rebels and leaves home. He hears a speech on "justice and righteousness," source for the chapter "I Set Out to Rebuild the World." He demonstrates against anti-Semitism, and is jailed, as explained in the chapter "The Bund Seeks to Enter Smolensk." Released from jail, he flees to London, publishes a socialist newspaper, battles with anarchists, and protests pogroms in Russia. His future wife joins him from Russia, a son is born, and in 1906 they sail to America. The distinctive, occasionally tumultuous immigrant life that ensues is worth a book of its own.
My Life was written in Yiddish in 1954 and was translated to English in 2012 by the late Murray Sachs, professor emeritus of romance and comparative literature at Brandeis University.
Paperback book 2015