YESTERDAY: THE MEMOIR OF A RUSSIAN JEWISH FAMILY
By Miriam Shomer Zunser, Edited by her Granddaughter, Emily Wortis Leider (Harper & Row, 1978)
YESTERDAY is the compelling chronicle of three generations in the life of a Russian Jewish family Ð from the time of Czar Nicholas I through the first quarter of the twentieth century, from small Jewish enclaves of Russia and Poland to the shores of America.
Written with the directness, vitality and charm of a folktale, the book was originally published in 1939 on the eve of the outbreak of World War II and describes a world which has largely vanished. We share the joys of wedding celebrations, songs and Sabbath rituals, as well as the dark side - pogroms and military conscription. Emily Wortis Leider has added a postcript on the life of her grandmother, the author, playwright, sculptor, art teacher and columnist Miriam Shomer Zunser.
Out of print, this book can be ordered on second-hand book websites including MX BookFinder and Amazon.com.
Emily Leider wrote a series of poems based on this memoir, which were published in her RAPID EYE MOVEMENT & OTHER POEMS. The poems were set to music by composer Ivan Rosenblum, as a song cycle titled "Shtetl Voices" that has been recorded by the Wolford/Rosenblum Duo and mezzo-soprano Stephanie Friedman on the Centaur label. The CD that includes the song cycle is called "Laughter and Tears."
Comments on YESTERDAY
"I read and relished YESTERDAY. The family saga is engrossing, illuminating and an encouraging reminder of a life we have lost, but also of a heritage that gives us belief in our own survival. I laughed, I cried, I loved every new baby and especially the family togetherness. Bravo! --Molly Picon, Actress
"I’m tremendously impressed with the book. Not only does it present stories of great human interest; it also portrays vividly and accurately many aspects of life in pre-1917 Russia. Emily Wortis Leider deserves high praise for the quality of her editing. Repeatedly I was struck by her care with details, her choice of just the right words, and her knowledge of the subject matter. --Ralph T. Fisher, Emeritus Professor of Russian History, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign