Books of Life

In a massive Web project, the history of European Jews comes alive

Some bitter and mournful, others folksy, the manuscripts lay abandoned. Who could find them, buried in attics and special libraries? Who could read their Yiddish? And so these Yizkor (or memory) books--written as requiems to entire Jewish communities extinguished by World War II--were nearly forgotten. After all, few of the Holocaust survivors who memorialized the dead were professional writers. The more than 1,200 texts they wrote chronicle the sad years of genocide and often the decades, even centuries, before. Their accounts, typically printed in limited press runs, adapted a Jewish tradition from the late 13th century of recording pogrom victims.

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