“This newly revised version of [a] classic study...is a pleasure for the eye and the soul! One of the seminal studies of the impact of the Shoah on European Jewry,...this volume asks how one can mourn for a world lost and still live in the present and the future.”
— Sander L. Gilman
In the years after World War II, Polish Jewish survivors of the Holocaust who had made their way to the Americas and Israel compiled memorial books to preserve the memory of their destroyed communities. From a Ruined Garden gathers some 77 selections from the nearly 1,000 memorial books published since World War II. The texts describe daily life in the shtetl as well as everyday life during the Holocaust and the experiences of returning survivors. The comprehensive bibliography of memorial books and gazetteer of place names in this updated, expanded edition are indispensable resources for genealogical research. A new introduction by the editors illuminates the history of the memorial book genre and its importance for the construction of memory culture through the response of Holocaust survivors. From the book cover.
“This very browsable book provides insight both into a lost world and into the range of materials available in the yizkor chronicles.”
— Jewish Book World
“An indispensable sourcebook....Emphasis falls on the variegated, often joyful, culture of the Polish Jews, on what existed before the garden was ruined.”
— Geoffrey H. Hartmann, The New Republic
“From these marvelous selections, one can see an entire culture unfolding.”
— Curt Leviant, New York Times Book Review
“Kugelmass and Boyarin have done a splendid job of combing the vast memorial book literature to select the most revealing accounts of Jewish life in interbellum Poland. Ordinary people speak in this volume with an immediacy and poignancy that cannot help but touch the reader. In the time since it first appeared, From a Ruined Garden has become a classic. Its reappearance in an updated and expanded form is most welcome.”
— Barbara Kirshenblatt-Gimblett
“In this magnificent collection, the editors combine a profound ‘feel’ for the vanished world of Polish Jewry, the anthologist’s skill at selecting the telling example, and the anthropologist’s sophisticated understanding of how these testimonies should be read. A marvelous introduction to this rich literature.”
— Peter Novick
“Rarely is a book published that causes such an entirely new genre of studies to open up. This...was the result of the remarkably fortunate publication...of the first edition in 1983…Up to that time there had not been a major focus on the [yizker bikher] as social, historical, and genealogical sources of firsthand knowledge about destroyed communities, to some extent because of language barriers. [Now] in another bit of fortunate timing, a second, expanded edition has been published...Indispensable...judicious, learned, sensitive analysis.”
— Joyce Field, Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies
Jack Kugelmass is Professor of Humanities and Jewish Studies at Arizona State University and the author of The Miracle of Intervale Avenue: The Story of a Jewish Congregation in the South Bronx and Masked Culture: The Greenwich Village Halloween Parade; he is editor of Between Two Worlds: Ethnographic Essays on American Jewry and Going Home: How Jews Invent Their Old Countries.
Jonathan Boyarin, an anthropologist and ethnographer, is currently completing a degree in law at Yale University. He is the author Polish Jews in Paris: The Ethnography of Memory; Storm from Paradise: The Politics of Jewish Memory; and Thinking in Jewish. He is editor of Remapping Memory and coeditor of Jews and Other Differences.
Zachary M. Baker was Head Librarian at the YIVO Institute for Jewish Research.