Tales of Bialystok:
A Jewish Journey from Czarist Russia to America
by Charles Zachariah Goldberg
Translated from the Yiddish by Phyllis Goldberg Ross
Published November 15, 2017
Charles Zachariah Goldberg left Bialystok in 1906 at the age of 20 in the aftermath of a deadly pogrom in Bialystok, then a part of Czarist Russia. Published later in life, living in Connecticut, these are his remembrances and stories about growing up in Bialystok, tales of the dreadful, and of the humorous, of family life, and of his journey to America. He writes in a voice all his own, familiar, plainspoken, direct and honest. Originally written in Yiddish for publications in the New York City area in the 1930s and 1940s, Charles Zacariah Goldberg stories capture both the immediacy of his experiences and the tales told him by others.
Zachariah Goldberg was one of the millions of Jews who made their way from czarist Russia to America more than a century ago. In his case, though, he captured some of his experiences and impressions in letters and stories. Collected here by his daughter, Phyllis Goldberg Ross, they offer the memories of a witness with one foot in the Old World -- his native Bialystok -- and the other in the Goldene Medine. Thus, his short accounts combine some of the supernatural quality of Hasidic tales with the un-prettified testimony of the greenhorn immigrant. Goldberg's reports remind us of just why the Jews had to flee eastern Europe, and the dangers they were willing to risk to earn a chance for a new life.
David B. Green, Senior editor, Haaretz English Edition, and author of its "This Day in Jewish History" column