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Shtetl: The Life and Death of a Small Town and the World of Polish Jews Shtetl: The Life and Death of a Small Town and the World of Polish Jews by Eva Hoffman
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“The past depends on the angle from which it is seen and from which it has been lived”
Eva Hoffman, Shtetl: The Life and Death of a Small Town and the World of Polish Jews
“The structures of collective and personal life in Polish shtetls were so exactly defined as to be infinitely replicable — as the structure of a honeycomb is replicable throughout a beehive. Each shtetl was a self-contained world, and each was utterly recognizable as an instance of its kind. This consistency, the patterned predictability of life, was undoubtedly part of the shtetl's strength. But it also meant that the shtetl was a deeply conservative organism, resistant to innovation, individuality, or rebellion. It is hard to think of any analogues to the early shtetl society, for its character was part untouchable and part Brahmin, simultaneously ancient and pioneering, both pragmatically materialistic and sternly religious. It was a peculiar, idiosyncratic form of a rural, populist theocracy.”
Eva Hoffman, Shtetl: The Life and Death of a Small Town and the World of Polish Jews