Bunch of Jews

 A Bunch of Jews (A Minyen Yidn)

Writer: Max B. Perlson and Trina Robbins
Artists include: Sarah Glidden, Shary Flenniken, Eve Furchgott, Miriam Katin, Miriam Libicki, Michael Netzer, Anne Timmons, Robert Triptow, Jen Vaughn, Steve Leialoha, Elizabeth Watasin, Caryn Leschen, Joan Steacy, Ken Steacy, Terry Laban, and more.
Publisher: Bedside Press
Adapted to comic form by: Trina Robbins

A review by Foosa Pendragon

A Bunch of Jews is an adaptation of a 1930s Yiddish short story collection, translated to English and adapted to comics form by the author’s daughter, Trina Robbins. The stories revolve around a small shtetl in Belarus at the turn of the 20th century, and in early 20th century Brooklyn, NY.

This Kickstarter funded project speaks about experiences that are unique to those who know what it is like to grow up in a small Jewish town or grew up hearing about these stories. The story inspired images of family and a good experience of community. Each story has either an anecdote, a moral, or a joke, showing how simple narratives can bring community back together and expose other communities. Max Perlson is an amazing storyteller and Trina brought his stories to light for the benefit of the readers.

The stories of A Bunch of Jews each have a different artist, but what they did was engage with the tone and the feel of the narrative through the artwork, rather than just compliment it. They reflect the experience of the narrative, forming an intimate relationship between the stories and the readers. Their stylistic choices furthered that and added more breadth and depth to the reading. The design and art choices matches the story and its requirements, giving new life to old stories. The artists understood the stories they were given, or chose, and put their spirit into the narrative and created a masterpiece.

A Bunch of Jews starts with a heartfelt story of how Trina found the book that she had dismissed and rediscovered. The intro gave the story new meaning because it wasn’t just a book that happened to be written by her father, but another chance to hear her father’s voice. The book also ends with a glossary of the Yiddish words used in the comic as well as the context of their existence, so those who are unfamiliar can follow and understand the narrative.

BUY IT! A Bunch of Jews is made of a bunch of stories and is an amazing read. The stories are beautifully written as an expression of Yiddish, immigrate, and Jewish experiences both in mostly Jewish towns and after they left them. The artists took those beautiful stories and created beautiful art that reinforced them and gave them a new life. Together, the verbal and visual experience provides a nostalgic and historic glimpse into the kind of life many enjoyed and could not get back after displacement. The narrative is made of pieces of life that may emerge again, showing how culture can perpetuate and can be revived just through recreating stories and sharing memories.

Foosa Pendragon

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