Tag: history

My return to Konin (Poland)

August 2018 The moment I stepped out of the car, I realized that this was the first time a member of my family had been back in our ancestral town in more than 130 years. I was in Konin, in the Lodz district of Poland, the town where my paternal ancestors had lived for generations…

A Second Look at Harari’s ‘Sapiens’ (2018)

Yuval Noah Harari’s Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind has proven to be one of the most thought-provoking non-fiction books published in recent years. It’s such a stimulating book that I reread it recently. Originally written in Hebrew, the English-language version of Sapiens appeared in 2014 and quickly became a publishing sensation. Having dominated the…

Rhea Clyman chronicled Soviet famine

Rhea Clyman, an accomplished journalist born to a Jewish family in Toronto in 1904, wrote many front-page newspaper stories in the late 1920s and 1930s about political events and their tragic human consequences in Russia, Ukaine and Germany, but died in near-obscurity in New York in 1981. Clyman wrote rare and chilling eyewitness accounts of…

Mary Berg and the Warsaw Ghetto

Four years ago, a Pennsylvanian antiques collector purchased a trove of old scrapbooks and photo albums at an estate sale in the town of Red Lion, Pa. The cache, which included hundreds of photographs including some taken in the Warsaw Ghetto between 1940 and 1943, cost only $10. Discovering that the material was related to…

Jewish Soldiers of World War One

The number of Jews who fought in the First World War has always been difficult to tally because Jews fought on both sides and in multiple armies involved in the conflict. On the Allied side, at least 500,000 Jews served in the Russian Army, about 250,000 served in the United States Army, roughly 50,000 in…

A ‘robust, new’ history of Jews in Canada

Seeking the Fabled City: the Canadian Jewish Experience, by Allan Levine (McClelland & Stewart) Proficient, prolific, and preternaturally talented, Winnipeg-based historian Allan Levine has produced a robust new history of the Jewish experience in Canada that seems both compelling and fresh. Seeking the Fabled City — the title comes from a line by the late…

Archaeology of Toronto’s ‘Ward’

The Ward Uncovered: The Archaeology of Everyday Life, edited by Holly Martelle, Michael McClelland, Tatum Taylor, and John Lorinc. (Coach House Books, 2018) In recent years the history of the old “Ward” neighbourhood of downtown Toronto has been reclaimed and remembered in books, museum exhibits, and, most significantly, a vast archaeological dig behind City Hall…

Book explores history of Jews of Salonica

Jewish Salonica: Between the Ottoman Empire and Modern Greece By Devin E. Naar. Stanford University Press 2016. by Bill Gladstone Jews first arrived in the city of Salonica, formerly known as Thessaloniki, soon after their dispersal following the Roman conquest of ancient Israel. Salonica again became a prime destination for Sephardic Jews after Spain expelled…

Broadway’s newest Fiddler is one for the ages

  Wonder of wonder and miracle of miracles, the new production of Fiddler On The Roof at the Broadway Theatre in New York — directed by Bartlett Sher and freshly choreographed by Israeli choreographer Hofesh Schechter — is good enough to make seasoned theatregoers forget that they ever saw a previous production of Fiddler or…

Review: Sailor and Fiddler, by Herman Wouk (2016)

Sailor and Fiddler: Reflections of a 100-Year-old Author, by Herman Wouk (Simon & Schuster) This slim volume, which the author describes as a “non-autobiography,” will be of special interest to people interested in literature, for it focuses primarily on Wouk’s writing life and how he came to create such popular works as The Caine Mutiny,…