MY FATHER'S PEOPLE: A Family of Southern Jews
Rubin's loving tribute to his paternal ancestors—"a remarkable group of people"—is as close to perfect as a family story gets. In gentle, matter-of-fact prose, Rubin, now 77 and one of the great lights of Southern letters, tells the stories of Hyman and Fannie Rubin, his grandparents, and their seven children. "What happened to them and to their parents must have been so distressing, so painful to remember, perhaps so deeply humiliating, that doubtless there was little incentive on their part to relive the memories of that time," he writes. "What happened" was that in 1902, 16 years after settling in Charleston, S.C., Hyman suffered a heart attack and became unable to support his family. Harry, the eldest child, was old enough to work. But Dan, Manning and Louis, 10, eight and seven, were sent to the Hebrew Orphans' Home in Atlanta for several years. Dora, Esther and Ruth stayed home. Eventually, Hyman was able to reunite the family. "[T]hey were a brave band, and what they did with their lives deserves to be recorded." Daniel became a successful playwright, Manning a newspaper editor. Years after illness robbed Louis of his ability to make a living in business, he became celebrated for his ability to predict the weather. Rubin's descriptions are affectionate, yet he doesn't gloss over their flaws, and as a result, those he knows best come alive for readers. 18 b&w photos. (Oct. 1)
Forecast:This should have appeal beyond the substantial population of Southern Jews and their descendants. But those interested in Southern Jews (particularly in South Carolina) may also want to know about the exhibition catalogue A Portion of the People: Three Hundred Years of Southern Jewish Life, edited by Theodore Rosengarten and Dale Rosengarten (Univ. of South Carolina, $34.95 288p ISBN 1-57003-445-1).
Release date: 09/01/2002