See below for From Here to Obscurity,
or click here for NEW BOOK by Yoel Sheridan,"Gold Ducats and Devilry Afoot. An Historical Narrative of The Trials and Tribulations of Henry Simons A Polish Jew in Mid-Eighteenth Century England"
for From Here to Obscurity,
From Here to
"(This book) brings to life those characters that made up the majority of East European Jewish immigrants who settled in the East End, with style and perception that makes for an exciting and moving fusion of history and literature." Professor William J. Fishman, Author and London Historian.
"Shulem was born in the same year as Trotsky and Einstein. Of the
three, only Shulem could make a decent pair of trousers"
|From Here to Obscurity tells the story of the
now lost Jewish East End of London through the eyes of Shulem, an immigrant
from Poland, his wife Rivka, and Yulus, their English born youngest son.
The opening half introduces us to the family, the thriving Yiddish-speaking
community that inhabited the East End, its customs, landmarks and characters,
and its turbulent history including the poverty and fascist incursions.
We meet the family, Shulem, the patriarch and upright worker - Rivka, the warm and sympathetic matriarch - and their eight children - the master tailor, the three seamstresses, the socialist, the athletic author, the school station master, and, of course, Yulus, the youngest whose arrival forces the family to move from their two room dwelling off Brick Lane to a larger, yet still crowded, abode in Goodmans Fields.
"An unforgettable book. The historical detail, anecdote, and vivid descriptions of life - games, markets, traders, schnorrers, Speaker's Corner hecklers, crockery merchants, Petticoat Lane and Cable Street, Russian vapour baths, Jewish pilot crash landing in Lampedusa, British anti-semitism etc etc - have an epic, Dickensian quality. The writing is a great strength of the book, that is, the memory-observations, language, speech and dialogue bring across the individuals and bit-players each of whom embodies the bigger themes of the Jewish East End." Nick Barlay, Author
September 1st 1939 is the pivotal moment of the story. Shulem escorts Yulus to be evacuated from London to safety, as the Nazis march into to Shulems mothers town in Poland. What follows is the destruction of the East Ends Jewish homes and infrastructure through the targeted bombings of Hitlers Luftwaffe.
|"Hardest of all, the Luftwaffe will smash Stepney. I
know the East End! Those dirty Jews and Cockneys will run like rabbits into
their holes" Lord Haw-Haw
Yulus is evacuated along with his schoolmates at Jews Free Central
School to Sohamelycambs in the Fenlands, whilst Shulem stays
behind in war torn London. Their lives are shattered by the war. On the
morning after Yulus's Barmitzvah, he is unable to enter his home because
of the thousand pound unexploded bomb that Hitler sends him as a birthday
present. His school in the country finally closes due to lack of staff
caused by recruitment into the armed forces, and he has to take his matriculation
under the threatening onslaught of the German V-1 flying bombs. Later,
even after the Nazi concentration camps are liberated, over twenty members
of his youth club are killed in the last German V-2 rocket to fall on
Shulem's relatives are caught up in the Holocaust. His mother, sister and family, who remained in Poland, are transported to the Treblinka death camp. He doesn't know the fate of his brother and family who lived in Hamburg in Germany. But after the Jewish Hagganah in Palestine accidentally sink the Patria, a British deportation ship, another brother and family, escaping from Danzig, are deported to the island of Mauritius in the Indian Ocean for the duration of the war.
Despite all these traumatic historical events, 'From Here to Obscurity' is an uplifting tale of human warmth, humour and solidarity in the midst of overwhelming global forces.
Yoel Sheridan, author of 'From Here to Obscurity', was born in the East
End of London in 1928. Some years ago, whilst watching television, he
saw Joseph Burg, the then Israeli Justice Minister, on a visit to his
one-time home town in Germany, pointing to an undamaged building and saying
that that was where he had lived prior to being forced to leave Germany
due to the rise of Nazism. "I turned to my wife Tova and said how
strange. Why strange? She asked. Well, I said, I cannot visit my previous
abode in the East End of London, because it was totally destroyed by the
German bombers in world war two. Not only was my house destroyed, but
the whole street. Destroyed too, were my infant and senior schools, the
Synagogue in which I had my barmitzvah and the infrastructure of the thriving
Jewish Yiddish speaking community that lived there prior to the outbreak
of the war." So began, Yoel's research into the history of the Yiddish
speaking East End between the wars, and finally this novel that faithfully
re-creates that community and its demise, through the eyes of one family.
Yoel has lived in Israel since 1973.
Location Location Location by Emma Klein, London Jewish Chronicle,
A London Jewish world that is no more by Alexander Zvielli, Jerusalem
A look back at life in the East End by Joe Swinburne, Essex Jewish
News, March 2002
An accurate portrayal of London's East End that no longer exists by
Rachel Regan, New Zealand Jewish Chronicle, June 2002
Beneath the big shadow of war - Touching but funny account of an East
End Jewish family by John Rennie, East End Life, July 2003
American Association of Jewish Libraries' Newsletter - September/October
2003 by Suzanne Smailes, Wittenberg University
London Jewish world that exists only on paper by Marilyn H Karfeld,
Cleveland Jewish News, 8-12-2003
Distributed by Central Books Ltd, 99 Wallis Road, London E9 5LN, England.
Tel No. (+44) (0)208 986 4854.
1. The book can be ordered in the UK from:
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2. USA: Henry Hollander, Bookseller, 843
Twenty-Fourth Avenue, San Francisco, CA 94121