[Book Review] A Contrary Journey with Velvel Zbarzher, Bard by Jill Culiner

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By Jill Culiner

In her latest work, Jill Culiner takes her reader on a journey through 19th century eastern Europe as she searches for a rebel and contrarian, Velvel Zbarzher. Zbarzher spoke in favor of Jewish Enlightenment at a time when communities were ruled by the Hasidic rebbes and Jewish law controlled all aspects of life. Culiner takes her readers on a journey through this world, bringing to light a potentially forgotten piece of Jewish history.

Culiner brings her readers along on her journeys in a way that is absolutely brilliant. Wrapping history and Jewish culture in beautiful prose, bringing back to memory an extraordinary Hebrew poet and Yiddish melodramatist, whose work paved the way to later Yiddish theater. Culiner’s writing style engages the reader from beginning to end while teaching important, and often forgotten, pieces of Jewish history. This one needs to be on your reading list!

I would like to thank the author for an advanced copy in exchange for my honest review.

Rating: 5 out of 5.

More About the Author

A contemporary artist, writer, and photographer, Jill Culiner was born in New York and raised in Toronto. Her exhibitions about the World Wars and the Holocaust, La Mémoire Effacée, travelled throughout France, Hungary and Canada under the auspices of
l’UNESCO, and the French Ministry of Foreign Affairs. Culiner’s artwork has been shown in Germany, France, England, Spain, Italy, and Poland. Her publications among others include, Finding Home in the Footsteps of the Jewish Fusgeyers. Sumach Press, winner of the Joseph and Faye Tanenbaum Prize for
Canadian Jewish History, 2005 and nominated for the Foreword Magazine Prize in essay and history, 2005.

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By Jill Culiner An 1866 change to the constitution of Romania eliminated the right to citizenship for all non-Christians, leaving Romanian Jews with limited rights. On-going anti-semitism across Europe eventually made it necessary for Jews to immigrate away from Europe. By the early 1900s, a group of Romanian Jews, known by the Yiddish name of […]

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