The Last Bright Days


A Young Woman's Life in a Lithuanian Shtetl on the Eve of the Holocaust


Edited by Frank Buonagurio

The Last Bright Days is both a moving portrait of Jewish life during the 1930s in the small Lithuanian shtetl of Kavarsk and the personal story of one of its inhabitants, Beile Delechky.


In 1938, as Europe was about to plunge into the darkness of war and genocide, Beile emigrated to the United States, leaving her family behind but bringing with her hundreds of photographs and dozens of her notebooks. Over one hundred of these compelling photographs, reproduced in The Last Bright Days, give us a fascinating look back in time to a Jewish world that existed within Eastern Europe and was destroyed forever in the Holocaust. Beile's journal entries and poetry give us a window into the emotional life of a young woman coming of age in a small town as the problems of the wider world close in around her.


Beile left Lithuania for America excited to be going to a new home and determined to find happiness. But her hopes for happiness would always be tempered by the memories of the family in Lithuania she so tragically lost.


Beile never returned to Kavarsk. Her photographs and journals  helped preserve her memories of growing up in the Jewish world of Lithuania in the days before that culture was lost forever. They give the rest of us a poignant glimpse of those last bright days.

“I couldn't help sinking into thought. Many thoughts cropped up, about doom and existence,  about suffering and ephemeral freedom, from fleeting success to perennial suffering.  All these things, all these things, came up in my thoughts.”

And my dear mother, my good-hearted mother, I left her alone. The parting has been very difficult. My mother is standing next to my bed; I imagine her here in the hotel with tears in her eyes. And she is pleading, “Beilkeleh, please don’t leave me alone, I’m pining away for you, who will look out for me?”

“...portentously chilling...This collection is a beautiful preservation of Jewish life.”

              -Publishers Weekly (starred review)

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The Last Bright Days

ISBN: 978-0-9677697-9-0

Hardcover

8 x 11 Inches

165 Pages

121 Illustrations

    2 Maps

Nominated for the Sophie Brody Medal for outstanding achievement in Jewish Literature

The Last Bright Days iPad edition

is available on

Apple's iBookstore. 

 

The photographs of The Last Bright Days are brought to life in luminous detail on the iPad. This expanded edition includes 17 photographs not found in the print edition.

 

Also included are Yiddish songs sung by Beile Delechky. In her 60s Beile recorded on cassette tapes the songs she learned growing up in Lithuania. 

 

Done in her home, without musical accompaniment, their heartfelt renditions tell us how much these songs meant to Beile and how they reminded her of her home and family. 

 

Eleven of these songs, digitally remastered, have been added as a chapter to The Last Bright Days for the iPad.

 

The Last Bright Days iPad edition sells for $14.99 and can be purchased here.


“...a beautifully produced album of photographs...

...a last, nostalgic look at a world about to be destroyed...

...magnifies the pain and sense of tragic loss in the wake of the total destruction of Jewish Kavarsk and of provincial Lithuanian Jewry.”

-Haaretz