Dreamers of the Ghetto

Dreamers of the Ghetto

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Dreamers of the Ghetto by Israel Zangwill

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1898

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Dreamers of the Ghetto

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This is a Chronicle of Dreamers, who have arisen in the Ghetto from its establishment in the sixteenth century to its slow breaking-up in our own day.

Book Excerpt

es near the beginning of the Hebrew alphabet. These acrostics, written in the Middle Ages by pious rabbis, permeated the Festival prayer-books, and even when the child had to confess his sins--or rather those of the whole community, for each member of the brotherhood of Israel was responsible for the rest--he sinned his sin with an "A," he sinned his sin with a "B," and so on till he could sin no longer. And, when the prayers rhymed, how exhilarating it was to lay stress on each rhyme and double rhyme, shouting them fervidly. And sometimes, instead of rhyming, they ended with the same phrase, like the refrain of a ballad, or the chorus of a song, and then what a joyful relief, after a long breathless helter-skelter through a strange stanza, to come out on the old familiar ground, and to shout exultantly, "For His mercy endureth for ever," or "The appearance of the priest!" Sometimes the run was briefer--through one line only--and ended on a single word like "water" or "fire." And what pious fun it was to come

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