In My Father’s Court and More Stories From My Father’s Court by Isaac Bashevis Singer are autobiographies written by the Pulitzer Prize winning author about his years in Warsaw as the son of a pious rabbi in the early 1900’s.
Told in the first-person child’s voice, the short stories are enlightening by way of recounting very specific interactions which took place between his father, the rabbi, and Jewish neighbors who came to his home to seek counsel. Based on his vast knowledge of Jewish law, the rabbi performed divorces and settled a wide variety to disputes.
What fascinated me was learning that it was common practice for the wife of a rabbi to work and support the family in order to allow her husband to devote himself to studying the Torah. Singer’s family relied on the community for their support and oftentimes, there was no money coming in because his mother did not work. They lived through winters without heat and fasted often because there was no money for food. I found this appalling.
The books contain humorous stories as well as sad ones. Overall, they taught me much about the beliefs and lives of Jewish people living in Poland in the early 1900’s. I enjoyed the well-written books and recommend both.