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First in the Saga of the Jews of Krimsk By Allen Hoffman (280 Pages)Publisher: Abbeville Press, 1997
Small Worlds takes place in 1903 and introduces the wondrous rebbe of Krimsk, a small Hasidic settlement in Eastern Europe.
The little town of Krimsk is about to observe Tisha B'Av, the calamitous day of mourning marking the destruction of the ancient holy Temple in Jerusalem. The beloved rebbe has mysteriously emerged from years of seclusion, and the Krimskers, thirsty for guidance, seek the wonder-working rebbe's saintly advice throughout the night. The encounters prove to be comic, sober, and wise, as arson, romance, and violence sweep through Krimsk and into the Polish town of Krimichak across the river. In Krimichak dwells Grannie Zara, the rebbe's rival for power. The women of Krimsk have always secretly crossed the river to consult her, and on this fateful night, one determined woman and one curious boy from the primary class urgently feel the need to visit her. The relationship between the two towns, always uneasy, is in danger of igniting. Back in Krimsk, the rebbe and his wife discuss a groom for their only daughter, and the rebbe summons the man he has chosen. But a different young man, a stranger swept up in the revolutionary ferment stirring all Russia, stops for a while at the Angel of Death, the empty, cursed synagogue. It is he who will face the angry mob from Krimichak as it crosses the bridge into Krimsk with consequences that will affect and astound everyone.
Small Worlds is the first in a series of novels concerning the people of Krimsk and their descendants in America, Poland, Russia, and Israel. In each volume Allen Hoffman draws on his deep knowledge of Jewish religion and history to evoke the "small worlds" his characters inhabit.
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