Coral Springs, FL – Brutal concentration camps in North Korea and China. Refugees, from Syria and other war-torn lands, by the hundreds of thousands, suffering in thrown together shacks in Jordan and Lebanon. Anti-immigration sentiment growing here in America and worldwide.

These horrors fill today’s headlines. But though they may be news, they’re not new. From Hitler to Stalin to the Kim family’s North Korea, these tactics have long been part of the oppressor’s playbook.

But what’s also not new is the desire of those who don’t live under these circumstances to better understand the plight of those who do…to know what it feels like to be a refugee at a time so many thousands face so many challenges, but also to know that there are those who not only escaped to freedom, but who also succeeded even beyond their own dreams later in life.

Yiddishkayt Initiative Press has released a book that lets its readers experience all of that almost, as one reader put it, “almost as if I was living through it myself.” The book is “A Breed Apart: Reflections of a Young Refugee” by Miriam Hoffman.  Reviewers have described it as “a journey of heartbreaks and triumphs, a wonderful read” “an inspiring book” and “a remarkable memoir.”


Miriam Hoffman, now an internationally renowned author, scholar, and professor of Yiddish and Jewish culture, grew up facing the same kinds of brutality as today’s refugees, when as a child, she had to survive life in a Siberian wasteland when her father was imprisoned for political reasons in the notorious gulag of Stalin’s Russia.  Readers will learn the lengths her mother went to in order to get her husband out of jail, and her family out of the country, including the improbable practice of pestering Joseph Stalin himself with a letter a day, pleading for his intercession.

They’ll travel with the family as they employ secret strategies to cross multiple borders and feel the anguish they felt when they find themselves at a Displaced Persons Camp for five long years before being allowed to emigrate to America, only to encounter anti-Semitism and anti-immigrant sentiment once they arrived.  How Miriam then overcame these obstacles to rise from refugee status to professor at Columbia University is a tale in itself to inspire any reader and make this a book to remember.

About the Author

Miriam Hoffman is retired from a 25-year career as Professor of Yiddish Language and Culture at Columbia University. She written several authoritative works on Yiddish, including a Yiddish language textbook used in colleges worldwide. Her literary career includes the writing of over a dozen award-winning plays, many performed internationally, several more books, and over 2,000 weekly columns published in New York’s Yiddish Forward newspaper. She is a founder of the Joseph Papp Yiddish Theater and a co-founder of the Yiddishkayt Initiative organization. She resides in South Florida.

Publishing Information

• Publisher: Yiddishkayt Press, Inc.  • Copyright date: First Edition, November 2017 • Pagecount: 206 • ISBN-10: 0999336509 • ISBN-13: 978-0999336502 • Kindle version now available