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Bread Givers by Anzia Yezierska
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** spoiler alert ** That is a tale of New York's old Jewish community from roughly a century ago. It is difficult to imagine an indictment of the numbing adherence to a vision of religious tradition than Anzia Yezierska's "The Bread Givers." But not deep religiosity; for all Reb Smolinsky's study--his solution to a crisis is to shield himself with a "I am holding up the light of the Torah"--his Torah is quite malleable. He uses it to justify his pitiable effort to start a business and when he is defrauded, to justify his poverty. He uses it to deny his daughters marriages for love, views them as earners (supporting his holding up the light of the Torah) and basically sells them off. He ends arguments with his wife with by saying "Woman!" as an imprecation and notes repeatedly that women are nothing without men. Widowed, he quickly marries a woman who appears to think, straining credibility, that he has money. Out of this family the fierce Sara Smolinsky claws her way, leaving the household while still single, going to college, becoming a teacher, and marrying for love. But not even then she is not free; in the end, old Reb Smolinsky threatens to ruin even her new household by becoming so helpless that he lives with Sara and her husband. Proving that certain men are nothing without women.
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Reading Progress

Finished Reading
September 7, 2013 – Shelved

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