Literacy of Jewish women in the Old Country #general


Shelley Mitchell
 

The question is what you mean by illiterate. If she was married
before she arrived, it was unlikely. How would she shop for food or
get around alone if she couldn't read the signs or pay in money?
(She never would have received the right change or overpaid!) Once
she came to this country, she would have been required to speak and
read English. Ironically she came at a time when Jews were given
much more limited entry to the US so it is even more likely she was
literate. When my grandmother emigrated in 1920, she was able to
speak German, Polish and Yiddish, the languages of the people around
her. She and my grandfather learned English right away for their
citizenship and to fit in. Your aunt may have meant that she had no
formal education. Or your grandmother played down her knowledge for
whatever reason.

Shelley Mitchell
NYC

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