A Woman’s Life
A Woman’s Life
This epilogue recounts how, terrified of anti-Jewish violence, Pauline Wengeroff died, ‘lonely and miserable’, in Minsk in 1916, at the age of 83, in the midst of the First World War and a disintegrating tsarist empire, having encouraged one grandson to practise the piano so that he might get to America. The grandson, Nicolas Slonimsky, eventually succeeded in reaching the United States, as did three of Wengeroff's children, after Wengeroff's death. Ultimately, through her resonance with a generation hungry for what she had to offer, Wengeroff tried to help right some of the losses of Jewish modernity, to which she knew she had contributed. With her memoirs she hoped to inscribe herself, and some chosen others, on the tablet of Jewish memory but, above all, to perpetuate and give life, a future, to Jewish memory. In that goal she was not alone but part of a vigorous stream. Whether Memoirs of a Grandmother or the conviction that it had reached its target audience and purpose gave her any comfort in her last days no one knows; but one can hope.
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