Blessed Hands: Stories
Author: Frume Halpern
Translator: Yermiyahu Ahron Taub
Publisher: Frayed Edge Press
Physical description: 6x9; 319 p. (pbk.)
A plain factory worker who hides herself from life finds new possibilities opening up when a co-worker invites her to a political lecture. A humble shoemaker gains confidence and pride in his work after a yeshiva student introduces him to the philosophy of Spinoza. An unhappy housewife has new emotions stirred in her by an intellectual boarder. An African American man works his entire life standing, only to find himself unable to walk in retirement. A Jewish family waits in sorrow and anger as their loved ones' fates are played out on the national news. Frume Halpern brings these "slice of life" stories to life in this collection of short stories featuring protagonists on the fringes of American society: immigrants, Jews, African Americans, and the disabled, the sick, and the poor.
Blessed Hands is the frst ever complete English-language translation of Gebenshte hent: dertseylungen, along with the original foreword by Isaac Elchanan Ronch and an afterword by the translator. This collection contains short stories that were published over several decades in the left-wing daily news-paper Morgn frayhayt [Morning Freedom] and other Yiddish-language outlets in mid-20th century New York.
These psychologically insightful stories present the lives of protagonists who are working-class poor, social outcasts, and those experiencing illness, disability, and racism. Halpern worked as a massage therapist in a hospital and many of these stories are about those who work with their hands: workshop/factory workers, piece workers, a shoemaker, a butcher, and a hairdresser.
The author, Frume Halpern (neé Tarloff, among other forms), was born ca. 1881-1888(?) presumably in (or near) Bialystok (then the Russian Empire, now Poland). It is likely that she immigrated to the United States in 1904, and became a naturalized citizen in 1914. She worked as a massage therapist in the Bronx Hospital, and wrote stories which appeared in Yiddish-language publications such as Morgn frayhayt (Morning Freedom) and the Zamlungen (Collections).
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