1: Novel excerpt, Isaac Metzker's "Grandfather’s Acres," 1953.
Isaac Metzker (1901-1984) was a Yiddish novelist and short story writer, a regular contributor to the New York Yiddish newspaper Forverts (The Forward), and a teacher and advocate of Yiddish. His novel Afn zeydns felder, translated as Grandfather's Acres, describes life among a mixed Jewish and gentile rural community in Eastern Galicia (modern-day Ukraine) at the end of the nineteenth century. In this passage, he describes with reverence the rituals of the Jewish community surrounding Rosh Chodesh, and also the way that these rituals appeared to outside observers.
Suggested Activities: Have your students read the passage and discuss the following questions: Does Metzker treat the Jews and their ritual with reverence? Does he find their practices odd? What does the excerpt tell you about the relationships between Jews and their neighbors? What do you learn from the passage about the ritual of blessing the new moon? Describe, in your own words, the custom of blessing the new moon – who performs it, where, and how?
Source: Isaac Metzker, Grandfather’s Acres. trans. Yossel Birstein. (Jerusalem: Gefen Publishing House, 2005), 30-31.