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Jack Kamen was born in 1913 above his father's harness shop in Brownsville, a Yiddish-speaking section of Brooklyn. He brings that lost world to life in this humorous, heartwarming, historical collection of family stories with universal appeal. 


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Jack bares all as he reveals secrets of the Enchanted Outhouse, the Mysterious Yeshiva Fire, and the Great Thanksgiving Fraud.

Learn why Jack was in the Oval Office one month and jail the next...why Uncle Youssel sold his soul...and how Jack saved his hide when the Manhater's Club discovered him eavesdropping.

Jack's greatest secret--his formula for health, happiness, and longevity--is hidden in every story. It's his attitude, and it's contagious.


"Three Words," the book's first story, is about the highest form of love. 

Why doesn't the story contain the word "love?" Because people rarely said "I love you" in those days. They showed it.

While every story in the book is about love, that "three word sentence" is only written once...at the end of the last story.

Not-so-coincidentally, every sentence spoken in this story is three words long.


Three Words


"Cossacks are coming!" the terrified young man yelled as he ran through the streets of Tagancha. He came from a nearby town that warm summer afternoon in 1902. His relatives were being murdered as he came to warn ours.

"Cossacks are coming!" were the most frightening words imaginable to Russian Jewish peasants.

Cossacks were members of the Tzar's army, but when they rode into a Jewish town everyone knew it meant trouble. It was best to hide until they left.

Most of the homes had dirt floors, but my father's older brother, Yankel, had just built a nicer house. It had a raised wooden floor and porch.

Yankel told everyone to hide under his house, but he stayed outside. He knew the Cossacks would search the house unless they thought it was vacant.

When they arrived, he greeted them.

"Where is everyone?" the leader asked.

"I don't know," were his last words. They killed him and left without searching the house.

Uncle Yankel is remembered for his short lifetime of generosity and caring. We owe our lives to him.

I was named after him when I was born in New York eleven years later. My parents always called me Yankel, although my birth certificate says Jacob, the English translation.

Now, when someone asks me a hard question, I answer with dignity. I stand up straight and proudly repeat Uncle Yankel's heroic words:

"I don't know."


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Revised: October 04, 2011.