Arguing with the Storm: Stories by Yiddish Women Writers.


232 pages
ISBN 978-1-894549-63-9
DDC C839'.1301089287





Edited by Rhea Tregebov
Reviewed by Susan Merskey

Susan Merskey is freelance writer in London, Ontario.


A worldwide effort to renew interest in Yiddish language and literature has been in progress since the 1980s. Academic courses are being offered and reading circles have sprung up in various centres, especially among senior citizens who may have spoken Yiddish in their youth. One such group has been active in Winnipeg since 2000, and it is from the work of this group that the present volume was born.


Arguing with the Storm brings together 14 stories by nine different writers. The authors—Bryna Bercovitch, Rochel Broches, Paula Frankel-Zaltzman, Fume Halpern, Sarah Hamer-Jacklyn, Malka Lee, Rikuda Potash, Chava Rosenfarb and Anne Viderman—were born in the late 19th or early 20th century in Eastern Europe. Twelve of them, of whom Chava Rosenfarb is the only one still living, eventually moved to North America. Rikuda Potash moved to Palestine in 1934, while Rochel Broches died in the Minsk Ghetto in 1942.


The stories range in time from the early 1900s to the 1970s and in theme from the comic shtetl tale to sharp psychological satire, from Holocaust memoir to the challenges of moving from the Old World to the New. They are grouped by author and prefaced with brief biographies, which are themselves nuggets of Yiddish literary history.


All the stories have their own appeal, though individual readers will have their favourites. My own were Bryna Bercovitch’s memoir “Becoming Revolutionary,” Paula Frankel-Zaltzman’s “A Natural Death,” and Anne Viderman’s “A Fiddle,” while the plight of the small children in Rochel Broches’ “Little Abrahams” conveyed a horror all its own. I would personally have liked to see more Yiddish humour included, but perhaps that is for another volume.


Editor Rhea Trebugov, an award-winning poet and teacher of creative writing, explains that the title for the anthology comes from the poem “My Home” by the Yiddish poet Rachel Korn and hopes that the stories will provide “a window onto the lives they portray.” They should certainly inspire readers to discover more about this little-known area of literature. Recommended.


“Arguing with the Storm: Stories by Yiddish Women Writers.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 18, 2024,