I’ve now been in the Pale of Settlement and saw the Hasidim dance, I’ve lived through the October Revolution and its pogroms. I survived the Holocaust alongside Shargorod’s Jews that included my immediate paternal family and am now almost to the point where historical reality intersects with my own: the past joining my own life in Shargorod. I’m more than half way done through Red Shtetl and I have more questions than I anticipated and it’s hard to put them all down in words.
Are any of people described my ancestors that have faded out of the family lore? Or Is the village scholar/itinerant rebbe my paternal great grandfather who taught (term used loosely here) his own unofficial yeshiva students while his wife operated a goods store on her own and raised their children? Are the kids hidden during the Holocaust when the Germans were there before Shargorod was taken over by Romania my father and his sisters? Is my paternal great aunt a victim of Civil War pogroms in 1918-1921? The answer is yes, probably, and absolutely. The story of Shargorod is unique in a greater sense of things. It is just another Jewish shtetl but it did more than survive. It thrived when the Soviets were taking away Jewish communal rights like the synagogue and the heder. It thrived when Jews in the region were massacred and t kept its own people safe and welcomed deported families.
Reading this book has once again underlined how little I know where I come from. And yet, it is also full of possibility: of avenues to explore and stories to learn. Above is one of the many videos of Shargorod from Youtube. It combines both the historical visuals and the concrete structures of my memory.