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Rabbi and Priest A Story   By: (1861-1957)

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A Story



Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society of America. 1891. Copyright, 1891, by the Jewish Publication Society of America.

Press of Edward Stern & Co. Philadelphia.


Towards the end of 1882, there arrived at the old Pennsylvania Railroad Depot in Philadelphia, several hundred Russian refugees, driven from their native land by the inhuman treatment of the Muscovite Government. Among them were many intelligent people, who had been prosperous in their native land, but who were now reduced to dire want. One couple, in particular, attracted the attention of the visitors, by their intellectual appearance and air of gentility, in marked contrast to the abject condition of many of their associates. Joseph Kierson was the name of the man, and the story of his sufferings aroused the sympathy of his hearers. The man and his wife were assisted by the Relief Committee, and in a short time were in a condition to provide for themselves.

The writer had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Kierson a few years later, and elicited from him a complete recital of his trials and an account of the causes of the terrible persecution which compelled such large numbers of his countrymen to flee from their once happy homes.

His story forms the nucleus of the novel I now present to my readers. While adhering as closely as possible to actual names, dates and events, it does not pretend to be historically accurate. In following the fortunes of Mendel Winenki, from boyhood to old age, it endeavors to present a series of pictures portraying the character, life, and sufferings of the misunderstood and much maligned Russian Jew.

In the description of Russia's customs and characteristics, the barbarous cruelty of her criminal code and the nihilistic tendency of the times, the author has followed such eminent writers as Wallace, Foulke, Stepniak, Tolstoi and Herzberg Fraenkel. The accounts of the riots of 1882 will be found to agree in historic details with the reports which were published at the time.

With this introduction, I respectfully submit the work to the consideration of an indulgent public.




We are in Russia.

On the high road from Tscherkask to Togarog, and not far from the latter village, there stood, in the year 1850, a large and inhospitable looking inn. Its shingled walls, whose rough surface no paint brush had touched for long generations, seemed decaying from sheer old age. Its tiled roof was in a most dilapidated state, displaying large gaps imperfectly stuffed with straw, and serving rather to collect the rain and snow for the more thorough inundation of the rooms below than to protect them from the elements. The grounds about the house were in keeping with it in point of picturesque neglect, and were as innocent of cultivation as the building was of paint. A roughly paved path led from the highway to the tavern door. Two old and sickly poplar trees cast a poor and half hearted shade upon the parched ground, and mournfully shook their leaves over the scene of desolation. The herbage grew in isolated patches on a black and uncultivated soil. Nature might have originally been friendly to the place, but generations of poverty and neglect had reduced it to a condition of wretched misery.

As was this particular spot, so was the entire village. Slavery had wound its chains about the inhabitants, stifling whatever energy they possessed, entailing upon them constant toil to satisfy the exorbitant demands of their task masters. Hence, even with a genial sun and a southern climate, the fields were barren, the crops poor and the people sunk in abject poverty.

The dilapidated inn, or kretschma , was known in the vicinity by the ideal and appropriate name of "Paradise" appropriate, because in it many a sinner had been tempted and had fallen from grace... Continue reading book >>

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