Re: shtetl vs dorf #general


Judith Singer
 

One reader wrote: "the exact equivalent of shtetl in Italian is
borghetto". This is not correct. A borghetto, or ghetto, was a
segregated area of a larger town in which Jews were required to live.
A shtetl was a small town in which Jews were a substantial proportion
of the population (25% to 75% or more, but rarely if ever 100%), which
served as a market town for the surrounding rural area, and in which
the Jewish population was large enough to support the essential
institutions of Judaism: a synagogue, a mikveh, a cemetery, a kheder,
and the several coluntary associations that performed communal and
charitable functions. A shtetl was not segregated. There tended to be
a concentration of Jews in the center of town near the market square
and Gentiles tended to live on the outskirts of town closer to their
fields, but most streets contained both Gentiles and Jews.

See, for example: YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe:
"Shtetl", Mark Zborowski. and Elizabeth Herzog: :Life Is with People:
The Culture of the Shtetl", and Yohanan Petrovsky-Shtern: "The Golden
Age Shtetl"

Judith Singer

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