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Extra resources for A Shtetl and other Yiddish novellas
Not for a moment that summer was the marketplace empty. One strike followed another; not a workshop or factory was spared. Saturday mornings, when the weather was fair, youths in their best jackets and boots carried on in the street while the synagogue stood silent as a tomb. The sexton complained that there was barely a minyan,* and when Yoyne the scribe, returning home from the Hasidic prayer-house with his followers, caught sight of the young men in the street, he was overcome by a terrible sadness: "Lord of the Universe, I, for my part, forgive them .
Their hammers tapped steadily against the soles as they took up the old familiar strains: Once I loved a pretty girl Vienna was her home Vienna was her home She went back to her mother and dad To see what they were doing To see what they were doing. First they mourned the girl who had gone home, then they lamented the golden bird, "famed for its beauty but more for the heights it flew to," the bird that "brought a letter from Vienna, from the girl he had been true to," and more and more of the same until God himself should have been moved to mercy.
So he was obliged to read the document aloud. Everyone crowded around, climbing on top of one another, over benches and tables. Yekl held the proclamation up to the light: "Genossen and Genossinenl" he began, in the Germanic style of these proclamations. " cried Itchele. "Brothers and sisters," Yekl continued. " "Everywhere but here," smiled Itchele. " "Let's get him a couple of girls," came an offer, and everyone laughed. Itchele pounded his friend on the back, and the merriment spread. Soon they were jumping over benches.