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The Diaries of Bernhard Cahn: A Man of His Time
by Arline Sachs
From 1817 through 1871,
Bernhard Cahn kept diaries recording daily life and thoughts of a
German-Jewish citizen. He was a veteran of the Napoleonic War, and in
his community of Kastel, Hesse, he served as teacher, schochet (ritual
slaughterer), and religious leader for more than fifty years.
In addition to everyday
life, Cahn describes activities such as the arrival of the steam engine
and steamboats that would soon ply the Main River, the visits of
dignitaries, traveling to visit family members, and secular and
religious festivals. Cahn described interactions with the mayor and
other officials, Christian officials who attended major Jewish
community functions. He wrote much about America and the Civil War,
about President Lincoln's assassination, as well as his views on
Presidents Jefferson and Grant. Anti-Semitic events in Europe, the
building of the Suez Canal, and migration of Germans to America are all
The diaries were written
in Judeo-German; a form of writing using Hebrew letters to express
German words and sounds. His great-great granddaughter, Arline Sachs,
meticulously translated all 4,000 pages and presents excerpts from
these diaries to give a picture of the life of a German-Jewish citizen
in the 19th century.
6" x 9" 225 pp. hardcover $29.00
List of Figures ixIntroduction - Uncovering the Past xiChapter I: 1700s The Documents Passed on to Me 1Chapter II: 1813 -1814 A Soldier in Napoleon's Army 13Chapter III: 1814-1817 The Audition A New Life 27Chapter IV: 1828 Mazel Tov 31Chapter V: 1830-1856 A Time of Changes 44Chapter VI: 1853 -1858 Religious Matters The Medal of St. Helene 58Chapter VII: 1859 -1862 Signs of Aging The Dull Knife 66Chapter VIII: 1859 -1860 Remembering the Past - Home and Community - Religious Matters 72Chapter IX: 1861-1862 Family Matters - Bertha's Wedding 84Chapter X: 1862 The Collapsed House 94Chapter XI: 1862-1863 Life Goes On 105Chapter XII: 1864 Jubilee 113Chapter XIII: 1848 -1871 Americana 124Chapter XIV: 1865 - 1870 Pfeifer's Nephew - The Visitor - Health Care 132Chapter XV: 1866 The Religious Weapon - A Near Disaster 137Chapter XVI: 1867 The Prisoner 144Chapter XVII: 1868 - 1869 Retirement - New Beginnings 148Chapter XVIII: 1867 - 1869 World Interests 155Chapter XIX: 1870 Knas Mahl 160Chapter XX: 1870 - 1871 Wars and Religion - A Light in the Heavens 164Chapter XXI -Timeless Subjects 171Chapter XXII - Afterward 173Chapter XXIII: 1863 - 2002 Bernhard Cahn's Descendants 180Acknowledgments 185Appendix 1 - Glossary 188Appendix 2 - Index 191Bibliography 201
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