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Micha Josef Berdyczewski (surname also written Berdichevsky) was a Ukrainian-born writer of Hebrew, a journalist, and a scholar. He appealed for the Jews to change their way of thinking, freeing themselves from dogmas ruling the Jewish religion, tradition and history, but is also known for his work with pre-modern Jewish myths and legends. He wrote in Hebrew, Yiddish and German and has been described as "the first Hebrew writer living in Berlin to be revered in the world of German letters."The book is supposed to be about Miriam, a young Jewish girl living in Eastern Europe toward the end of the 19th century. She tries to find her way between the old, frozen religious society and the new confusing winds of enlightenment. But in fact, the author draws a wide sketch of Jewish life in that period, by shortly focusing on a large array of characters and events populating the world of Miriam, and thus the real hero of the book is the Shtetl, the small Jewish town of Eastern Europe until the Holocaust. Berdichevski inadvertently created in this work a memorial to a lost rich civilization.
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