A Jewish Woman of Distinction
The Life and Diaries of Zinaida Poliakova

ChaeRan Y. Freeze; translated by Gregory L. Freeze

 

Glikl
Memoirs 1691-1719

Annotated with an introduction by Chava Turniansky; English translation by Sara Friedman

Available December 2019

Forthcoming

A Jewish Woman of Distinction

The Life and Diaries of Zinaida Poliakova

ChaeRan Y. Freeze; translated by Gregory L. Freeze

freeze poliakova

Zinaida Poliakova (1863-1953) was the eldest daughter of Lazar Solomonovich Poliakov, one of three brothers, known as the Russian Rothschilds, who dominated Russian finance and business and built almost a quarter of the railroad lines in Imperial Russia. Poliakova’s diaries, which span three quarters of a century, provide a rare into the world of the Jewish elites in Moscow and St. Petersburg and reveal how Jews successfully integrated into Russian aristocratic society through their intimate friendships and patronage of the arts and philanthropy, but without converting and indeed while staunchly demonstrating their Jewishness. The aristocratic sensibilities and lifestyle that Poliakova cultivated in Russia informed her tastes, habits, and sociability as an émigré in France following her marriage to Reuben Gubbay (the grandson of Sir Albert Abdullah Sassoon), even during the difficult years in Paris during World War II and postwar years in England after she lost almost all her family members and friends during the Holocaust.

CHAERAN Y. FREEZE is Professor of Near Eastern and Judaic Studies, and Women's, Gender and Sexuality Studies at Brandeis University. She has focused her research on the history and culture of the Jews of Russia with special attention to gender and women. Her books include Jewish Marriage and Divorce in Imperial Russia and Everyday Jewish Life in Imperial Russia, 1825-1914: Select Documents (coauthored with Jay Harris).

 

Glikl 

Memoirs 1691-1719

Annotated with an introduction by Chava Turniansky; English translation by Sara Friedman

freeze poliakova

“My dear children, I write this for you in case your dear children or grandchildren come to you one of these days, knowing nothing of their family. For this reason I have set this down for you here in brief, so that you might know what kind of people you come from.”

These words from the memoirs Glikl bas Leib wrote in Yiddish between 1691 and 1719 shed light on the life of a devout and worldly woman. Writing initially to seek solace in the long nights of her widowhood, Glikl continued to record the joys and tribulations of her family and community in an account unique for its impressive literary talents and strong invocation of self. Through intensely personal recollections, Glikl weaves stories and traditional tales that express her thoughts and beliefs. While influenced by popular Yiddish moral literature, Glikl's frequent use of first person and the significance she assigns her own life experience set the work apart.

Informed by fidelity to the original Yiddish text, this authoritative new translation is fully annotated to explicate Glikl’s life and times, offering readers a rich context for appreciating this classic work.

CHAVA TURNIANSKY is professor emerita in the Department of Yiddish at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her fields of research include the history of Yiddish Literature and Ashkenazi culture, especially in the Early Modern Period. She is a member of the Israel Academy of Sciences and Humanities, and an Israel Prize Laureate. Her critical edition and Hebrew translation of Glikl’s memoirs was awarded the Bialik Prize in Jewish Studies.