I began rereading Red Shtetl by Charles E Hoffman recently because I’ve been feeling nostalgic I guess. I am particularly biased when it comes to this book because it happens to be about my hometown, about the history of both the town and the Jews in it through the last half a millennium. I’ve now lived outside my hometown for longer than I did live there but Shargorod is my childhood, it’s my family, and it’s the past of my people. What makes it special besides being my home? Perhaps, it’s the fact that a stone synagogue was built there before any other religious structure. And it still stands, almost 450 years later. Or perhaps it’s the fact that there are tzaddikim buried there. Or perhaps that Baal Shem Tov supposedly spent time there in 1700s. Or perhaps it is the fact that unlike most of the other shtetls in the region, Shargorod’s Jewry with my father and his family remained almost completely intact during Shoah while everyone else was slaughtered by the SS.
Perhaps I am just a sucker for anomalies.