The Jew Store

Stel­la Suberman
  • From the Publisher
September 22, 2016
For a real bar­gain, while you’re mak­ing a liv­ing, you should make also a life. – Aaron Bron­son. 

In 1920, in small town Amer­i­ca, the ubiq­ui­tous dry goods store – suits and coats, shoes and hats, work clothes and school clothes, yard goods and notions – was usu­al­ly owned by Jews and often referred to as the Jew store.” That’s how Stel­la Suber­man’s father’s store, Bron­son’s Low-Priced Store, in Con­cor­dia, Ten­nessee, was known local­ly. The Bron­sons were the first Jews to ever live in that tiny town (1920 pop­u­la­tion: 5,318) of one main street, one bank, one drug­store, one pic­ture show, one feed and seed, one hard­ware, one bar­ber shop, one beau­ty par­lor, one black­smith, and many Chris­t­ian church­es. Aaron Bron­son moved his fam­i­ly all the way from New York City to that remote cor­ner of north­west Ten­nessee to prove him­self a born sales­man – and much more. 

Told by Aaron’s youngest child, The Jew Store is that rare thing – an inti­mate fam­i­ly sto­ry that sheds new light on a piece of Amer­i­can his­to­ry. Here is One Man’s Fam­i­ly with a twist – a Jew, born into pover­ty in pre­rev­o­lu­tion­ary Rus­sia and orphaned from birth, finds his way to Amer­i­ca, finds a trade, finds a wife, and sets out to find his for­tune in a place where Jews are unwel­come. With a nov­el­ist’s sense of scene, sus­pense, and above all, char­ac­ter­i­za­tion, Stel­la Suber­man turns the clock back to a time when rur­al Amer­i­ca was more peace­ful but no less prej­u­diced, when edu­cat­ed lib­er­als were sus­pect, and when the Klan was threat­en­ing to out­siders. In that set­ting, she brings to life her remark­able father, a man whose own brand of suc­cess proves that intel­li­gence, empa­thy, lib­er­al­i­ty, and decen­cy can build a home any­where. The Jew Store is a heart­warm­ing – even inspir­ing – story.

Discussion Questions