For hundreds of years Jews lived in Eastern Europe, subject to tyranny, under conditions of extreme poverty and persecution. They were severely handicapped economically, but survived as best they could, occupied in minor trades, and by and large, living by their wits. Jews were usually forbidden to own land, and most lived in the shtetl, where successive generations of poverty shaped their experience and outlook.
Yet even in their impoverishment, Jews of Eastern Europe created a remarkable culture. For them the
Bible was more than a source of wisdom, it infused
the very reality of their day to day being, the richness
of their intellectual and spiritual life in sharp contrast with their material deprivation. While their homes
were modest wooden structures every shtetl had its
own synagogue and Beth Midrash - centre of