Pio­neers: The First Breach

  • From the Publisher
May 16, 2017

When young Zal­men Itzkowitz steps off the train on a dark drea­ry day at the close of the nine­teenth cen­tu­ry, the res­i­dents of Miloslav­ka have no idea what’s in store for them. Zal­men is a free­thinker who has come to the rur­al town to earn his liv­ing as a tutor. Yet rather than teach Hebrew he plans to teach his stu­dents the Russ­ian lan­guage and oth­er sec­u­lar sub­jects. Res­i­dents of the town quick­ly become divid­ed, some regard­ing Itzkowitz as the devil’s mes­sen­ger and oth­ers sup­port­ive of his pro­gres­sive ideas. Set dur­ing the time of the Haskalah, the great Jew­ish Enlight­en­ment that was sweep­ing through Europe, Pio­neers is a charm­ing tale of one ambiva­lent young man’s attempt to join the move­ment and a com­pas­sion­ate por­trait of one shtetl on the brink of transformation.

Discussion Questions