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The Bright Days: A Young Woman's Life in a Lithuanian Shtetl on the Eve of the Holocaust

Buonagurio, Frank

Published by Institute for Jewish Research, New York, 2011
ISBN 10: 0967769795 / ISBN 13: 9780967769790
/ Condition: Fine / Hardcover
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Bibliographic Details


Title: The Bright Days: A Young Woman's Life in a ...

Publisher: Institute for Jewish Research, New York

Publication Date: 2011

Binding: Hardcover

Book Condition: Fine

Dust Jacket Condition: Fine

Edition: 1st Edition

Description:

Hardcover. A fine copy in a fine dust jacket. This is the story of a young Jewish girl in a small town in Lithuania in the 1930's. So was able to get out of what would become German held lands and came to the USA. 1938. The book is only a sampling of the photos she took to America. There is nothing left of Kavarsk after the war broke out and the Holocaust began. Bookseller Inventory # 007397

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Synopsis: The Last Bright Days is a moving portrait of Jewish life during the 1930's in the small Lithuanian shtetl of Kavarsk and the personal story of one of its inhabitants, Beile Delechky.

In 1938, as Europe was about to plunge into the darkness of war and genocide, Beile emigrated to the United States, leaving her family behind but bringing with her hundreds of photographs and dozens of her notebooks. Over one hundred of these compelling photographs, reproduced in The Last Bright Days, give us a fascinating look back in time to a Jewish world that existed within Eastern Eruope and was destroyed forever in the Holocaust. Beile's journal entries and poetry give us a window into the emotional life of a young woman coming of age in a small town as the problems of the wider world close in around her.

Beile left Lithuania for America excited to be going to a new home and determined to find happiness. But her hopes for happiness would always be tempered by the memories of the family in Lithuania she so tragically lost.

Beile never returned to Kavarsk. Her photographs and journals helped preserve her memories of growing up in the Jewish world of Lithuania in the days before that culture was lost forever. They give the rest of us a poignant glimpse of those last bright days.

Review: Starred review:Publishers Weekly In the 1930s, Beile Delechky was a young woman growing up in the Jewish shtetl of Kavarsk, Lithuania, where she and her brother Moishe were the unofficial town photographers. Just three years before the city's Jewish inhabitants were destroyed by the Nazis in 1941, Delechky left Kavarsk for America, bringing with her hundreds of photographs. Compiled by Buonagurio, and supplemented with his own commentary as well as passages of Delechky's journals and poetry (both photocopied and translated), these photographs show a vibrant Kavarsk, "a typical Lithuanian market town and...microcosm of Jewish life" as it was between the two World Wars. Given that most of her friends and family would die at the hands of the Nazis, the excerpts of her writings are often portentously chilling: "There is hope that the snow will come to an end," she writes, "There is hope that once again we will behold the green grasses on which we can lie down and rest." Many photographs depict Delechky's friends and family engaged in quotidian activities, like swimming in the Sventa River, posing in the snow, putting on plays, and harvesting apples. The final pages tell the story of Delechky's journey to America, including her passage through Nazi Germany on Kristallnacht. She eventually settled in San Francisco, but never returned to Lithuania. This collection is a beautiful preservation of Jewish life. Photos and maps. (Mar.) --Publishers Weekly starred review

The Last Bright Days: A Young Woman's Life in a Lithuanian Shtetl on the Eve of the Holocaust edited by Frank Buonagurio (Jewish Heritage, March) is a photographic portrait of Jewish life in the 1930s in Kavarsk. As a young woman, Beile Delechky was the town s photographer at a time when few had cameras. When she left in 1938, she brought hundreds of photographs and dozens of journals, which are also drawn upon in this striking volume. --The Jewish Week

The cover image of "The Last Bright Days: A Young Woman's Life in a Lithuanian Shtetl on the Eve of the Holocaust"... hints at a love story: a striking young woman, 19-year old Beile Delechky, holds a small bouquet of flowers as she stands with a soldier leaning on his bicycle, in 1938. Delechky was the town photographer of Kavarsk, Lithuania, 50 miles north of Vilna. She left alone for the United States in 1938, and brought with her hundreds of photos and her notebooks. ...After her death her family found her full archive, including poetry and other writing. Her son-in-law, Frank Buonagurio, lovingly put this volume together, digitally restoring the photographs that attest to her artistic eye and appreciation of light, composition and emotion. The photos include scenes of village life, friends posing near the Sventa River, Delechky's grandfather's apple orchard (he learned Talmud at night and filled in for the rabbi), a 1933 celebration of Lithuanian independence, the Jewish school, her parents and siblings, and other views of a time and place that is no more. The Jews of Kavarsk were all murdered in the Pivonia Forest on Sept. 5, 1941. --The Jewish Week

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