A Bintel Brief: Love and Longing in Old New York
For my final in my Politics of Ethnicity class, we are allowed to pick any country and write an assessment of ethnicity in that country. I decided to write on New York, and on the history of New York Jewish identity. While grabbing books, I saw a thin book with an artistic cover (see above). I flipped through a few pages, saw it was a graphic novel, and decided to read it on a study break. And wow, it was heartbreakingly wonderful, if not a bit gimmicky. A Bintel Brief gives you glimpses of Jewish New York at the turn of the century. As the Amazon description so helpfully explains, "A Bintel Brief "A Bundle of Letters"—was the enormously popular advice column of The Forward, the widely read Yiddish language newspaper begun in 1906 New York. Written by a diverse community of Eastern European Jewish immigrants, these letters spoke to the daily heartbreaks and comedies of their new lives, capturing the hope, isolation, and confusion of assimilation." Liana Finck, a contributor to the New Yorker, is the author and illustrator. She brings to life the letters by imagining a conversation between herself and the editor. She includes the editor's responses to the letters, and I couldn't tell if they were real or fictional If you wanna read the columns not in comic form, there's a collection of them in A Bintel Brief: Sixty Years of Letters from the Lower East Side to the Jewish Daily Forward. A quick read & a good idea for a present.
Here's a page from the start of the book and three pages from the end of one of the letters: