Zalman Kaplan, the towns photographer, captured the history of Szczuczyn from within the community. So in addition to photographing the town cemetery and architecture and meetings, he also recorded Purim parties, family portraits, bicycle excursions, and other moments of carefree life. What is so poignant is that the towns nearly 3,000 Jews, pictured leading vibrant and joyful lives, had no idea what disastrous fate was to befall them. Compelling essays by Jonathan Rosen and Jeffrey Shandler provide excellent context for understanding the shtetl of Szczuczyn. Rosens essay, for example, draws a parallel to September 11, how the photographs used on missing posters and in newspapers were of the subject at a time of joy. Photographs of lives lived, like the portraits in the book, now symbolize not how these people lived, but how they died.
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