Vyse Avenue

Charles Fre­undlich
  • Review
By – September 29, 2014

This nov­el tracks the mem­bers of a Jew­ish fam­i­ly liv­ing in the Bronx dur­ing the Depres­sion, World War II, and Israel’s cre­ation. Git­tel Rud­nick is the hero­ine of this sto­ry, the lady in the win­dow,” the self-appoint­ed guardian of Vyse Avenue. She shmoozes with passers­by and reflects on her life, begin­ning with her child­hood in a shtetl in anti-Semit­ic Gali­cia. She was sent by her father to find her for­tune in Amer­i­ca and to earn enough to send for her fam­i­ly to join her. Gittel’s jour­ney was typ­i­cal of that time, with the eigh­teen year old arriv­ing to live and work with an aunt who had a small shop on Orchard Street on the Low­er East Side. Git­tel had pride in the yichus (her­itage) of her fam­i­ly and was picky about find­ing a suit­able mate in her class, even­tu­al­ly mar­ry­ing Louis Fried­man. The sto­ry of the life they made togeth­er as an immi­grant fam­i­ly is emblem­at­ic of East­ern Euro­pean Jews who came to New York at that time. Through biogra­phies of the chil­dren and oth­er fam­i­ly mem­bers, the author describes in rich detail the hard­ships and suc­cess­es of this his­tor­i­cal peri­od, includ­ing stud­ies at Yeshi­va Col­lege, sum­mer work at a Jew­ish coun­try club in the Catskills, sem­i­nary study in Israel, and much more. 

This book is also suit­able for young adults, offer­ing insight to the pre­vi­ous century’s Jew­ish cul­ture in New York City.

Relat­ed content:

Miri­am Brad­man Abra­hams, mom, grand­mom, avid read­er, some­time writer, born in Havana, raised in Brook­lyn, resid­ing in Long Beach on Long Island. Long­time for­mer One Region One Book chair and JBC liai­son for Nas­sau Hadas­sah, cur­rent­ly pre­sent­ing Inci­dent at San Miguel with author AJ Sidran­sky who wrote the his­tor­i­cal fic­tion based on her Cuban Jew­ish refugee family’s expe­ri­ences dur­ing the rev­o­lu­tion. Flu­ent in Span­ish and Hebrew, cer­ti­fied hatha yoga instructor.

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