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Number Our Days: A Triumph of Continuity and Culture Among Jewish Old People in an Urban Ghetto Paperback – May 9, 1980

20 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

Charles Silberman The New York Times Book Review Professor Myerhoff is that rarity, a social scientist who writes with a novelist's eye and ear....She teaches us more about "the proper way to live" than all the self-help books combined.

Anne Sklar Los Angles Times Book Review An invigorating celebration of courage and stamina...a rich tapestry of love, sorrow, and rituals remembered and continued.

Maggie Kuhn Gray Panthers A compelling and compassionate account of elderly Jews who have much to teach us about surviving and aging with grace and wisdom.

About the Author

The chairperson of the Department of Anthropology at the University of Southern California, Dr. Myerhoff collaborated on a film about her work while she was doing the research for Number Our Days. It won the 1977 Academy Award for best short documentary. Her last book, Peyote Hunt, was nominated for a National Book Award.

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 318 pages
  • Publisher: Touchstone; 1st Touchstone ed edition (May 9, 1980)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0671254308
  • ISBN-13: 978-0671254308
  • Product Dimensions: 5.3 x 0.8 x 8.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #31,777 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By christine on June 8, 2003
Format: Mass Market Paperback
This book is an excellent study of the Jewish elderly living in Venice. I had to read it for an anthropology class at UCLA, and, considering it is an ethnography (which are usually dull and straight-forward) it is a really great book! Barbara Myerhoff makes her book extremely interesting to read, especially because of the comical episodes that happen within the context. Her book not only provides a study of the elderly, but also what it means to be a Jew who has survivor's guilt (from the holocaust). The book shows how the elderly are neglected, outcast members of society. A lot of mainstream media is focused towards our youth. Almost all of us will experience old age, and this book addresses that issue. I highly recommend this book, and to see the short film (which won an oscar).
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25 of 31 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on December 15, 1998
Format: Paperback
Myerhoff, who was a leading cultural anthropologist, led the way in moving anthropological studies from exotic far-off locations to the study of near-by and familiar cultures. In her case, Myerhoff, a Jew herself, studied an elderly East European immigrant Jewish community in Southern California. The book is a subtle and compassionate ethnographic portrayal of their struggles, relationships, and religious lives centered at a local Jewish Community Center. Though materially poor and burdened by old age, Myerhoff shows that the people's lives are rich in tradition and ceremony. An Academy Award winning documentary was also made of the community carrying the same title.
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9 of 11 people found the following review helpful By Marc A. Lowenstein on September 26, 2000
Format: Paperback
I read this book a while ago and reread it every few years. It is wonderful and moving, unsparing but kind. I often buy it for friends.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Shalom Freedman HALL OF FAME on March 14, 2013
Format: Paperback
This is simply a wonderful book. Barbara Myerhoff turned her anthropological lense on those near to her, Jews who came from an Eastern European background similar to her own. She traces their way of relating to each other and the world. The group is a very special one. They are people born in Eastern Europe almost all of whom lost relatives in the Shoah and who might have been victims themselves. They are survivors who know the worlde is harsh and expect no easy favors. They are tough- minded and practical, passionate and intense. Myerhoff makes the point that these people do not live for happiness but rather for meaningfulness. Their quarrels are intense and every small thing means something to them. They are also at times humorous at other times not pleasant to each other. Myerhoff centers on the centrality of remembrance and leaving a memory of the life and world one has lived in it.Her method of having group sessions in which people speak of their memories to others works to provide a great deal of material. She shows too the great importance of ritualand religion in people's lives.She paints portraits of interesting characters, including one extremely likeable,Shmuel the Tailor. She too talks about relationships between the generations, and indicates how many elderly people feel starvewd if they donb't see their grandchildren. This book is filled with balanced judgments and wise teaching.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Spencer W Sullivan on November 2, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Very interesting case study - the story examines the lives of elderly Jewish people living in a Los Angeles retirement home. Almost all of these people emigrated from a hard life in Eastern Europe and all were effected by the Holocaust in some way. The values that they've held on to from the old country, the values they've adopted as Americans, and the challenges of old age all come into play as they interact as a community. My son had to read this book for a college sociology class - he gave it to me because he thought that I would enjoy the book and I did.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mikkita on June 1, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I had to read this book for anthropology class and thought it was a chore. Luckily, I did buy it because it's opened my eyes to the Jewish cultures and what baby boomers are now experiencing around the world.
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By ggtx785 on January 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
An excellent read that just happens to be a classic ethnography. It's a timeless, well-written story about a vibrant community of Jewish elders at an urban day activity center, no doubt the work of an anthropologist who was a master at her craft. This is a must-read for any researcher interested in this method of inquiry - have recommended this as required reading for a qualitative research methods course, and will definitely watch the Academy Award-winning documentary tied to this book.
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Wonderful ethnography and worth the read. A little dense in the first chapter, so definitely academic, but don't let that put you off from reading it for enjoyment. Wonderful stories and perspective. This is not the type of dry ethnography you might have found in the earlier part of the last century. This is a collection of dialogue, stories, research, narration and introspection that highlights the contradictions of inherent in a subculture and in our own bias.
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