“Sam and Charlie Go to War” with Patricia Klindienst at the Guilford Free Library
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November 8, 2016 @ 7:00 pm - 8:00 pm
“Sam and Charlie go to War, is the story of two immigrants who enlisted to fight as the US chose to enter World War I. Patricia Klindienst will share letters written by Sam Yurik and Charlie Nemeroff, Russian Jews who worked together in a cap factory in Brooklyn. The letters date back from 1917-1919, and were sent by each of them to a fellow worker from the factory, Lena Chilensky, also a Russian Jew who’d recently emigrated.
The letters are beautiful, funny, engaging accounts (in Yiddish, translated by Klindienst) of basic training at Camp Upton, Long Island, the first basic training facility built when the US was preparing to enter the war, and then accounts of their experiences of the war. Sam joined the Jewish Legion, a little known group organized for the defense of Palestine (from the Turks). He trained in Canada and then was shipped over to the UK to be deployed in the supply services. Charlie served with the US expeditionary forces in France. These are not your typical white male letters—these men had little more than a third grade education (Jews were barred from most schools in Russia), but were cultured men, writing about Yiddish theatre, opera, books, and politics. They cherished friendships, including across gender lines, and their labor politics were, of course, leftist. They had a far keener grasp of what it meant to defeat imperialism.