In my 6th grade Hebrew school class, the teacher decided that we would re-create shtetl life. Each student was told to devise a shtetl identity and occupation. Most kids picked names like Rifka or Shlomo, and they were mothers or merchants. I decided that I would Janine, a French Jew forced to relocate to the undefined* Eastern European country in which our shtetl was located. In addition, I assigned myself the job of cemetery administrator and, if I remember correctly, also a part-time journalist. Right. *Since borders were constantly changing in the area in the past two or three hundred years, not defining what country the shtetl was in was probably the most authentic thing about this little lesson because who knew?

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