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The Jew Store

3.77  ·  Rating details ·  1,961 ratings  ·  246 reviews
"For a real bargain, while you're making a living, you should make also a life." --Aaron Bronson

In 1920, in small-town America, the ubiquitous dry goods store--suits and coats, shoes and hats, work clothes and school clothes, yard goods and notions--was usually owned by Jews and often referred to as "the Jew store." That's how Stella Suberman's father's store, Bronson's
Paperback, 316 pages
Published September 14th 2001 by Algonquin Books (first published January 1st 1998)
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Average rating 3.77  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,961 ratings  ·  246 reviews

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Jan 29, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: xx2018-completed
Stella Suberman was 76 years old when her book, “The Jew Store” was published. If that’s not inspiring enough, I urge you to read the book. It is not only inspiring, but utterly charming, fascinating, funny, and filled with one entertaining family anecdote after the other.

The pacing of this family saga kept me picking it back up as soon as I could after having to set it down to take care of life’s necessary distractions – like sleep, for instance. The characters are extremely well-drawn, as onl
Feb 20, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction
What a delightful story, a memoir. I had a hard time putting it down. It takes place in Tennessee in the 1920s. A Jewish family leaves New York to come to the southern town of Concordia, TN. My first thought was, Why. I would have thought that it would have been better to have stayed in New York where the racism and bigotry may not have been as bad, where they would still have a synagogue, a Jewish population, and Jewish friends, but then I realized that the father, Aaron Bronson couldn’t find w ...more
Jan Rice
This is one of those books that, if I walked around with it, people would look at me funny.

It is a memoir of the sojourn of the author's family in a small Tennessee town about 90 years ago. The author's age coincides with my parents'. In fact, my mother grew up in Tennessee, but the circumstances were different. Stella Suberman's parents had immigrated from Russia with their parents at a young age, while my grandparents were all born in this country. My mother's ancestors weren't all from German
Dec 05, 2009 rated it really liked it
I am learning so much from this book, which is someone else's memoir, as it informs me about my early Jewish heritage and the plight of my parents. It is written with such warmth and written so well that it often makes me smile with remembrance and understanding as my life experience's parallel those in the book. I wish all people could read it and get the same joy from it that it is providing me.
I do not know much about the background of my parents so this is especially interesting to me as I r
Mar 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing
I find books about the Jewish experience fascinating and this family memoir is no exception. It tells the story of a Jewish immigrant family who in the 1920’s moves away from their tight knit Jewish family in New York City to a small Tennessee town where they will be the only Jewish people in order to have the opportunity to have a dry goods store of their own. It is a great “American Dream” story and the dreamer is not only a driven and hardworking man but also a great family man who truly love ...more
May 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Having grown up in a Jewish family living in a small(-ish) Southern town, I immediately related to this memoir. The author strung together memories and stories in a seamless fashion. She wonderfully captured the feelings of both community and isolation that were constantly at work in the story and that I have seen played out in real life.

Perhaps even more poigant to me were the trials and tribulations of Stella Ruth's father and the family business. My own family owned and operated women's clot
Nov 21, 2010 rated it really liked it
This endearing family memoir recounts the experiences of a Jewish family in western Tennessee in the 1920s. The KKK abhorred blacks, Jews & Catholics but this family managed to insert themselves in a small southern town and successfully run a "Jew Store" -- an inexpensive dry goods store. The parents, Aaron & Reba Bronson, are Russian immigrants, with very different personalities. The father's positive, can-do attitude and natural salesmanship allows him to thrive as a businessman, but he is les ...more
Jan 06, 2013 rated it it was amazing
The title of this book drew me in, as soon as I saw it. In the small city where I lived as a child( in Canada) there was a store that my parents called de Joden Winkel, which is Dutch for "the Jew Store". I always thought it was just the Dutch community that called it that, and thought it was somewhat derogatory, even as a child. My mom did shop there a lot though, and was on pleasant enough terms with the owner, as far as I could tell. So to find a book with this title was a surprise, and the b ...more
Nov 12, 2019 rated it liked it
Truth is, I'm not a lover of memoirs - but this one had some shining moments. There were also places that just didn't capture me. Not because it wasn't good. It was. I just found myself wandering at points. Its interesting subject matter, and the stories were compelling. I always think its brave and important for people to tell their stories, and there is certainly a piece of history here. I could see there were clear moments of excellence. And yet, it just wasn't my cup of tea. Or I wasn't comp ...more
Feb 26, 2012 rated it really liked it
I read a lot of memoirs and I almost always enjoy them. Particularly meaningful to me are the ones where I feel I have some common experience with the writer. This lively story of Russian Jewish immigrants (as was one branch of my family) who started out in New York and then moved to Tennessee is told with sweetness and humor and addresses the difficulties and the triumphs of being completely different, yet not so different, in another world. As we continue to scatter, or to encounter the scatte ...more
Sharon Huether
May 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: family, biography
A Jewish family settling in the South in Concordia, Tennessee. They were the only Jewish family in town. They opened a general store"Bronson's Low-Priced Store." They did very well and made many friends. When the depression hit they helped another merchant stay afloat.
The story is told by the youngest daughter, Stella and her humorous observations of growing up in the South.
Mirta Trupp
Feb 02, 2019 rated it really liked it
I read this ages ago. I'd need to peruse it again before writing a review but, I do remember enjoying the book! ...more
4 stars for the first half of the book but it didn't finish quite as good as it started. ...more
Feb 25, 2021 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: kindle, jewish, history
⭐️ ⭐️ ⭐️ ½. The Jew Store by Stella Suberman is definitely a book worth reading. It is a book of non-fiction, a memoir that reads like a novel. A story in the 1920’s of a small store merchant, Jewish immigrant who with his family leaves the relative comfort of New York City, crowded with Jewish immigrants mostly from Eastern Europe and Russia to make a new life, like a fish out of water, in the Deep South, where they eventually, more or less find their way. Aaron, the father was born to be a sal ...more
Feb 27, 2020 rated it really liked it
Ms. Suberman writes a sweet, loving memoir of her Jewish Russian immigrant parents and her siblings. Her father, known as Aaron in the book, moves his family from everything and everyone they know and love in NYC to, in 1920, a very rural corner of Tennessee.
The conditions are difficult, discrimination and prejudice are especially directed to Jewish, Catholic and people of color. The Klu Klux Klan is alive and well, approving or disapproving what they choose.
Aaron, however, is a patient and int
Jul 15, 2017 rated it liked it
Book read for Book Discussion Group

When I first saw the title, "The Jew Store", I was a little put off. I had never heard the term before. Then someone told me that our little town had its own "Jew Store" many years ago and I was intrigued.

Stella Suberman's family moved to a small town in Tennessee before she was born. They left their New York neighborhood and family to start a dry goods store that would cater to the factory workers, sharecroppers and others who were not well-off. Mrs. Bronson
Betty Adams
Mar 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A charming, bewildering, funny, sad, and ultimately heart warming memoir of being the only Jewish family in a very rural Southern state in the 1920s/1930s. I loved it!
Feb 14, 2009 rated it really liked it
This was a book club selection and I didn't think it sounded that interesting (let's face it the title is off-putting)-until I picked it up and read it. It is non-fiction, (though it's a memoir so most of the names have been changed, but the fact that it's true made all the difference) it was just fascinating to follow the story of these Jewish immigrants who picked the south as the place to"make their fortune" in the 1920's and 30's. Also, in these economic times, it interesting to see how busi ...more
Greg McClay
May 20, 2014 rated it it was amazing
I kept thinking as I read this that it was a very American story. Which is probably an odd description but the immigration story, the (almost) American Frontier story, culture clashes and many many examples of the country's growing pains it just all screamed Made in America. It isn't an epic story, I don't mean to say that, huge things don't seem to happen other than that the premise itself must have seemed huge to everyone involved. Its a ten year block of time that clearly had a formative impa ...more
Dennis Fischman
May 04, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nonfiction
A nice memoir that calls up an earlier era for both Southern towns and Jewish immigrants. I really wanted to meet some of the people young Stella Ruth Bronson lived among and find out what it was like for them to have her family as neighbors for twelve years, especially Miss Brookie and Lizzie Maud, but they are probably all gone by now.
Feb 10, 2012 rated it did not like it
I couldn't even fininsh it. I tried to stay open minded about this book, but it was just plain bad! :( ...more
Apr 23, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Memoir about a Jewish family moving to remote town in Tennessee to open a dry goods store in the early 1900’s
Debi Levine
Nov 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I loved this book! A “Family Memoir” of a Jewish family in rural Tennessee in the 1920s. Well written, fully-formed characters, fascinating piece of history. Highly recommended
Mar 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: memoir, southern
This book was fantastic. It's a family memoir, telling about being the only Jewish family in Union City, Tennessee (thinly veiled as "Concordia" in the book). You can tell that the family loved stories, and that all of these stories had been told and and re-told many times over the years.

I have spent almost my entire life in Tennessee and the author perfectly describes life here, unfolding our mannerisms in a way that only an outsider can. Small towns have certain unique qualities all over the
Marji Morris
Aug 07, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: general, historical
The town where I live now had its own Jew store, as people were pleased to tell me when I first arrived here.I, of course, was horrified by the term at that time. That's what first attracted me to the book.
Suberman has recreated life in the early part of this century in New York and then in the south. She made me feel I was there with the Bronson family as they established themselves in "Concordia" Tennessee. I agonized with Mama as Papa wanted to move first to Nashville, where at least there
Jul 19, 2009 rated it liked it
Suberman has written a memoir of her parents, Eastern European Jews, who came to New York City in the 1920’s and ended up in a small town in Tennessee where the family owned and operated “Bronson’s Low Priced Store.” Much of the story concerns Stella, her brother Joey, and her sister Miriam, but the parents aren’t neglected either. Stella’s mother missed New York more than anyone else in the family, partly because she was concerned about Jewish education for her children and the lack of opportun ...more
Michael Lewyn
Oct 22, 2014 rated it it was amazing
This is (to me) a rather sad story of a difficult marriage between a husband determined to abandon religious observance and a wife who struggled to maintain Jewish tradition. Even in the wife's native New York, life was difficult; her workplace was full of anti-Semitism, Sabbath observance was impossible because the five-day week had not yet become the norm, and women were given no Jewish education (not even knowledge of Hebrew).

The husband dragged the family to a small town in the South so he c
Oct 28, 2017 rated it liked it
Stella Suberman’s relates the saga of her parents’ efforts to establish and run a discount store in the small Tennessee town of Concordia, much like many other Jewish families did in the years before the depression. For a time, it was fairly typical for small southern towns to have their own “Jew store.”

From Suberman’s story we learn what it’s like to live as the only Jewish family in the God-fearing Christian south, where the KKK still wields strong influence and the prejudice against Jews is o
Dec 30, 2012 rated it liked it
This book was a very fast read and one I could not put down. Full of interesting, well-developed characters living in a town that the author made you feel like you were in. What a fascinating tale of one family's 1920s adventure of relocating from NYC to a tiny town in NW Tennessee not far too long after their arrival at Ellis Island, from Russia. Apparently, they were not the only ones, as many small towns throughout the South and the Midwest featured one Jewish family who set out to open their ...more
Linda Hart
Jun 27, 2009 rated it really liked it
Recommended by my cousin who loved it because it is the story of an immigrant Jewish family that runs a small drygoods store in early 1900's Tennessee. We know very little about my great grandma, Minnie Levi or Levy, which may or may not be an accurate name, except that she was foster daughter of a a Jewish family in Tennessee, just like the heroine. So this gave me a glimpse into what it may have been like for her. So far, the narrative and the dialogue is very good. ...more
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Play Book Tag: The Jew Store, by Stella Suberman; 4 Stars 2 11 Jan 23, 2021 02:05PM  
Jewish Book Club: * The Jew Store -- November 21 35 Dec 06, 2019 11:39AM  
Jewish Book Club: This topic has been closed to new comments. The Jew Store 9 18 Nov 17, 2019 07:27PM  
Play Book Tag: The Jew Store by Stella Suberman; 3 stars 2 18 Nov 13, 2019 06:36AM  

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“Stella Suberman's Suggestions for Further Reading
The Peddler's Grandson: Growing Up Jewish in Mississippi, by Edward Cohen
The Provincials: A Personal History of Jews in the South, by Eli N. Evans
Insecure Prosperity, by Ewa Morawska
The Slow Way Back, by Judy Goldman”
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