The First Breach
History finds a human voice in this humorous novel about a young man seeking
to be a part of the great Jewish enlightenment sweeping across Europe.
"A smart, capacious, and original novel, exploring how the Jewish enlightenment
movement called Haskala functioned on the ground, in traditional small
towns, in the lives of imperfect, inconsistent individuals. Rose Waldman’s
translation of the novel is what a translation should be: full, precise, and literate.
It does justice to both the variety of speech registers and the technical
religious vocabulary by which the characters articulate themselves: not a small
accomplishment, and a work to be celebrated and read."—Lawrence Rosenwald, Anne Pierce Rogers Professor of English, Director, Program in Peace and Justice Studies, Wellesley College
"A compelling narrative about struggles for personal and
social transformation among ordinary young Jewish men
and women in late nineteenth-century Russia. Waldman’s
translation makes a valuable contribution to the growing
body of An-sky’s works available in English. It will be
a source for all scholars, teachers, and students of East
European Jewish history and literature."—Polly Zavadivker, assistant professor of history,
University of Delaware
S. An-sky, pseudonym of Shloyme-Zanvl Rapoport (1863–1920), was a Russian Jewish
writer, ethnographer, and cultural and political activist. He is best known today for his
play The Dybbuk.
Rose Waldman’s translations have appeared in Pakn Treger, Circumference, Inventory, as
a chapbook, Married by I. L. Peretz, and elsewhere. She has received a translation fellowship
from the Yiddish Book Center.
Book Description »[Close »]
When young Zalmen Itzkowitz steps off the train on a dark, dreary day at the
close of the nineteenth century, the residents of Miloslavka have no idea what’s
in store for them. Zalmen is a freethinker who has come to the rural town to earn
his living as a tutor. Yet, rather than teach Hebrew, he plans to teach his students
the Russian language and other secular subjects. Residents of the town quickly
become divided, with some regarding Itzkowitz as the devil’s messenger and
others supportive of his progressive ideas. Set during the time of the Haskalah,
the great Jewish Enlightenment that was sweeping through Europe, Pioneers is a
charming tale of one ambivalent young man’s attempt to join the movement and
a compassionate portrait of one shetl on the brink of transformation.
View other series books on Judaic Traditions in Literature, Music, and Art.
5 x 8, 224 pages