Melbourne’s rich Jewish history shines in a new anthology from the Monash University Australian Centre for Jewish Civilisation (ACJC), featuring 45 autobiographical stories of life in post-war Carlton, from 1945 to 1975.
Fun Himlen Blayene Tsu Bloye Teg (From Leaden Skies to Blue Days) takes its name from the lyrics of Yiddish song, ‘Zog Nit Keyn Mol’ (Do Not Ever Say), originally a poem by Hirsh Glick, who was a Jewish inmate of the Vilna Ghetto in Lithuania. The song became the anthem of the United Partisan Organisation, an anti-German underground group operating in the forests right across Eastern Europe. In the spirit and history of the song, the book covers the experiences of these post-war refugees and their “Blue Days” in Carlton and the peaceful democratic haven of Australia.
Fun Himlen Blayene Tsu Bloye Teg is the product of the ACJC Yiddish Melbourne project. Compiled and edited by Julie Meadows, it continues the narratives of contributors to a previous ACJC collection, A Shtetl in Ek Velt (A Shtetl at the End of the World), with stories from 54 members of Carlton’s Jewish community in the pre-war period, from 1925 to 1945.
Ms Meadows, of the School of Philosophical, Historical and International Studies, was 12 years old at the time the second wave of immigrants started coming in to Melbourne.
“The newcomers, however poor or traumatised, did not come empty-handed,” Ms Meadows said.
“Along with their burden of painful memory, they brought hope, energy and the knowledge of a thousand years of Jewish life and culture; even their wry irrepressible humour. They energised us, became our schoolmates and our shopkeepers; our teachers, musicians and actors; in time, our marriage partners, community benefactors and professional colleagues. Apart from the Yiddish language we all spoke, everybody barracked for the Carlton Football team.”
“The stories, though framed in hardship, are compelling, moving, and often funny. It was an incredible experience compiling the memories for this book. Their endurance and determination will continue to be inspirational for generations to come.”
The launch of Fun Himlen Blayene Tsu Bloye Teg (From Leaden Skies to Blue Days) will be held at 2pm, Sunday 23 March, at H1.16, Ground level, Building H, Monash University Caulfield campus, 900 Dandenong Road.
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