Story From First Hand


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Gluckl Von Hammeln takes up the diary in a difficult, bitter time for herself, when, suddenly having lost her beloved and loving husband, devoted friend, support of the family, at forty-four years of age she is left with eight children (four older ones have already been attached) … What to do ?! And what Glukel does, what path she chooses and with what dignity and self-control she follows, gives every reason to assert: yes, she is a heroine. What is her heroism based on? On love, for all her life her heart was full of love: tender and devoted – to loved ones, stoic – to life. On faith, for faith in the mercy and justice of the Creator has always strengthened her in the days of trials. On devotion, for she was a devoted wife and her husband’s interests were hers, and his affairs were hers; a devoted mother, because only for the sake of the children she dared to continue the trading affairs of her husband, a large merchant-jeweler, so much so that her social and business activity spread not only to Germany, but also to France, Denmark, Holland, Austria and Poland; and, finally, a devoted daughter who deeply reveres her parents, and a devoted Jewess – devoted to the traditions and interests of her people. And how not to say about her will? She never grumbled, but getting down to business, she patiently led him to success. What about piety? All her life she built on the commandments of the Torah and for all the drama of fate, she was not disappointed in them, but bequeathed to her children. Actually, it is to them that her “books” are addressed – so modestly, even ironically, she called her work. The pages of memoirs clearly show how the moral qualities and lifestyle of parents affect children – very convincingly, on the example of three generations! The Brockhaus-Efron Encyclopedia, by the way, having given a rather impressive place on its pages to Gluckel von Hameln, calls her “a typical Jewish woman”, though “especially interesting in view of her high spiritual qualities.” Moreover, it is noted that “her children became related to the best families” of German Jews, and she herself “stood in front of the then Jewish life.” No matter how high the position of Gluckel von Hameln was, on the pages of her work we meet a woman who is absolutely modest in all respects. The woman who wrote the memoirs definitely did not represent their true value, but they were a “major historical monument”, “the only artistic chronicle of Jewish life” of that time (Brockhaus-Efron), or future fate. And the fate is as follows: the son of Glukeli, the Bayersdorf rabbi Moishe Hameln, ordered to remove a copy from the mother’s manuscript, and as an inheritance she passed from one family to another. The descendants kept it as a treasure. The first memoirs, written by the author in Old Yiddish, were published in German in 1896 by the writer Kaufmann, known mainly for his works on Heinrich Hein, one of the descendants of Glukeli. Since then, they have been repeatedly published in English translation, in a word, they have gained well-deserved fame in the world. It is surprising that the Russian-speaking reader was not familiar with this wonderful work to this day.


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