Dear Mendl, Dear Reyzl: Yiddish Letter Manuals from Russia and America by Alice Nakhimovsky and Roberta Newman
2015 National Jewish Book Award Winner
While, for many, letter writing has by now been replaced by faster, more efficient, and trendier modes of communication, there was a time when handwritten correspondence was a driving force in social, economic, and cultural daily life. This was especially true for transient, largely literate populations, like the emigrating Eastern European Jews of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, who often remained tied to the families, lovers, friends, and acquaintances that they left behind.
Two recent books--- Alice Nakhimovsky’s and Roberta Newman’s, Dear Mendl, Dear Reyzl and Liana Finck's A Bintel Brief — explore the Jewish past via letters that reflect connections and collisions between old and new worlds. Through their very different looks at the art of correspondence, these books remind us that paper archives continue to be relevant sources of historical and literary knowledge and inspiration, even in this digital age.
Review by Tahneer Oksman
Paperback Book 2014