At the turn of the 20th century, Jewish families scattered by migration could stay in touch only through letters. Jews in the Russian Empire and America wrote business letters, romantic letters, and emotionally intense family letters. But for many Jews who were unaccustomed to communicating their public and private thoughts in writing, correspondence was a challenge. How could they make sure their spelling was correct and they were organizing their thoughts properly? A popular solution was to consult brivnshtelers, Yiddish-language books of model letters. Dear Mendl, Dear Reyzl translates selections from these model-letter books and includes essays and annotations that illuminate their role as guides to a past culture.
About the Author
Alice Nakhimovsky is Professor of Russian and Jewish Studies at Colgate University, where she directs the program in Russian and Eurasian Studies. She has written extensively on Russian-Jewish literature and everyday life and served on the editorial board of The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe.Roberta Newman is an independent scholar living in New York City. She is Director of Digital Initiatives at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research and was Illustrations Editor and Director of Archival Research for The YIVO Encyclopedia of Jews in Eastern Europe.