Review by Leah Cohen, Library and Archives Canada
AJL Newsletter, Feb/Mar 2005
In 1945, Falk ZOlf, a Jewish teacher in the I.L. PeretzShul in Winnipeg, published a moving semi-autobiographical novel in Yiddish called Auf Fremder Erd. In a series of 132 vignettes, he vividly described elements of his life from his childhood in Zastavieh until his emigration to Canada. Born in 1898, he offers us a glimpse of a generation whose youth predated the Holocaust, and was compelled to grapple with the forces unleashed during World War I, be they military, ideological, or psychological. Zolf's experiences are extremely diverse: a student at the Slobodker Yeshivah, a "draft-dodger" from the Czar's Army, a soldier in the Communist Russian Army, a Poale Tsion activist, a prisoner in a POW camp in East Prussia, and a familiy man in Zastavia, to name a few. His many wanderings in both the Pale of Settlement and Russian heartland give the reader a picture of the diversity of Jewish communities at the time. Zolf also addresses how the -isms and schisms of his day played out in this life: religious observance, secularization, and platforms of Jewish political movements, communism etc.Martin Green translated this book largely into English but with a twist - it is intended for the English speaker to learn Yiddish. The book starts off in English with about 10-20% Yiddish words (romanized), which increases gradually until the last chapte is entirely in Yiddish. Words introduced for the first time are translated unless the meaning is clear from the context. There is also a summary of each chapter, in English, and aglossary. A companion we site, www.onforeignsoil.com, offers voice clips of 23 excerpts and other resources. Recommended strongly for school and synagogue libraries as well as libraries that collect Yiddish language educational mateials.
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