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This week's Yizkor book excerpt on the JewishGen Facebook page

Bruce Drake
 

In the 1930s, Coney Island, Brighton Beach and Sea Gate in Brooklyn was home to many Yiddish speakers. (In more recent years, Brighton Beach has become more known for its large population of Russian immigrants, earning it the name “Little Odessa.”) The area also attracted noted Yiddish writers including Isaac Bashevis Singer and his brother I.J. Singer. Among these authors was Yona Rozenfeld, perhaps best known for the autobiographical novel Eyner aleyn (All Alone) published in 1940. Rozenfeld is the subject of a chapter bearing his name in the Yizkor book of Kovel (formerly part of Poland, now in the Ukraine) by another novelist, Yohanan Twersky.

Twersky describes much of Rosenfeld’s life and work in his chapter, but what drew me most of all were his descriptions of Brighton Beach where he moved in 1937. “The beach looked like an altar to sun and water when we stood at the windows of our apartment,” he wrote. “It was summer 1937 and Hitler’s shadow was spreading and growing… (but) here it is easier to ignore world problems since they are only possibilities at this time.” What was harder to ignore was the sufferings of Rozenfeld who was dying of cancer, and the narrative of Brighton Beach and Rozenfeld become intertwined.



Bruce Drake
Silver Spring MD

Researching: DRACH, EBERT, KIMMEL, ZLOTNICK
Towns: Wojnilow, Kovel