The Old Sto­ries: Da Alt Geshikhtem

  • From the Publisher
September 1, 2019

The Old Sto­ries recall a twen­ti­eth-cen­tu­ry une­d­u­cat­ed Jew­ish immi­grant, who lat­er leaves the Unit­ed States to help Holo­caust sur­vivors reach Pales­tine in 1946 – 47. While serv­ing on a czarist bat­tle­ship as a machin­ist dur­ing Rus­si­a’s loss of the 1905 Rus­so-Japan­ese War, he deserts the world of pogroms for Manchuria, and lat­er arrives in Van­cou­ver on a Cana­di­an freighter, hav­ing sold him­self as a labor­er to build a Cana­di­an rail­road. Pen­ni­less, he is mar­ried off by a shidikh to a rab­bi’s daugh­ter, and he starts a fam­i­ly in the U.S., where he becomes side­lined, and an embar­rass­ment to his sons because he lacks edu­ca­tion and can only read in Yid­dish. But lessons learned in his Russ­ian Tal­mud Torah about being right­eous and Tikkun Olam, as well as empa­thy for oth­ers gained from read­ing Sholem Ale­ichem in Yid­dish, pro­pel him to regain his feel­ing of self-worth when he vol­un­teers as a machin­ist for the engine room of one of ten war sur­plus derelict ships, refur­bished by Amer­i­cans Zion­ists to trans­port dis­placed per­sons to Pales­tine dur­ing the migra­tion of Euro­pean Jews known as the Aliyah Bet.

Discussion Questions