The main setting for these stories is the Jewish section of Warsaw before and during World War I. The Singer family moves from rural Radzymin to a small apartment at No. 10 Krochmalna Street. Father Singer is a rabbi of the Hasidic sect, which emphasizes mysticism and religious zeal. He earns a meager living from contributions and from small fees for acting as a judge or mediator in divorce cases, legal disputes, and other matters involving religious law. The daughter of a rabbi, Isaac’s mother is rational and pragmatic, complementing her husband’s devout attitudes and beliefs but not offending them. Isaac, also called Itchele, adores his older brother, Israel Joshua, who is fast becoming an “enlightened” Jew, rejecting the family’s strict orthodoxy and aspiring to become a writer. Moshe, Isaac’s younger brother, and Hinde Esther, his sister, have only small parts to play among the dramas enacted by Isaac and many of his energetic and curious schoolfellows and friends.