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.