A "Shtetl" was a place where, from time immemorial, the Torah was studied, where all inhabitants were students, where synagogues and houses of prayer were filled with people from all classes, absorbed in study; people from the village and youth from the countryside. Where craftsmen and oter simple people between te afternoon prayers and the dusk, gathered around the table to listen to a conversation on the Books of the Torah and to the interpretations of the Sages. A place were on Shabat, next to the Holy Ark, words of comfort were spoken, words from the Prophets, words that touched the hearts, doing good to the soul and filling the whole being. In this atmosphere, the Yiddish songs arose".
Mendele Moicher Sforim