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Immigrant Lessons [Hardcover]

Jusith Edelman Green
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
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Book Description

1 Feb 2008
Immigrant Lessons is the story of two women, forty years apart, crossing the sea to the shores of their promised land one fleeing Hitler, the other pursuing her spirituality and finding gain as well as loss in the transition. With unusual candor and insight, this warm, lively, and at times laugh-out-loud funny book explores in rich color the rewards and challenges of immigration and family relationships. Part memoir, part lyrical prose poem, Judith Edelman-Green s fluid tale of dislocation and change, enrichment, growth, and just plain survival will appeal to anyone who has ever been displaced, by circumstance or by choice.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: Gefen Publishing House; First Edition edition (1 Feb 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9652294136
  • ISBN-13: 978-9652294135
  • Product Dimensions: 16.9 x 23.1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 6,145,921 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Universal Lessons of Family, Love and Survival 20 July 2008
Format:Hardcover
This is a story of contrasts and similarities, about the interwoven lives of two different women, one younger and the other older, both of whom immigrated to Israel under vastly different conditions. They became special friends by their common experiences and family ties. The book is filled with heart-warming stories about how Sarah (who came to Israel in 1939) helped the author adjust to Israeli life and connect with her family's roots. This book is about courage, faith, discovery, and eventually triumph. New immigrants face many similar challenges: they must learn a new language, adjust to a new culture, and learn different customs and laws. Essentially, they build a life from the bottom up, especially when they have inadequate financial resources to rely on. Both women in this true story showed strength of character and resilience as they overcame the odds and created new lives. Each had a dream to live in Israel but for different reasons. Each was physically cut off from family and managed to fulfill her own personal quest. Sarah and Mordecai had joined a Zionist movement in the late 1930s with the goal of imigrating to Israel. It saved their lives. The author moved to Israel with her physician husband and young son in 1984. Judith Edelman-Green shares her personal journey to find spiritual fulfillment in her chosen country of Israel. In Israel, she reconnects with distant relatives who made aliyah during World War II, to escape the Nazi terror. These relatives then became the anchor which helped her understand her family's roots and connect her spirit with the present, completing the circle of life.

The author recounts many heart-warming experiences, many firsts in her life as she and her family adjust to a new land and new culture.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  5 reviews
23 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Universal Lessons of Family, Love, and Survival 20 July 2008
By Erika Borsos - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
This is a story of contrasts and similarities, about the interwoven lives of two different women, one younger and the other older, both of whom immigrated to Israel under vastly different conditions. They became special friends by their common experiences and family ties. The book is filled with heart-warming stories about how Sarah (who came to Israel in 1939) helped the author adjust to Israeli life and connect with her family's roots. This book is about courage, faith, discovery, and eventually triumph. New immigrants face many similar challenges: they must learn a new language, adjust to a new culture, and learn different customs and laws. Essentially, they build a life from the bottom up, especially when they have inadequate financial resources to rely on. Both women in this true story showed strength of character and resilience as they overcame the odds and created new lives. Each had a dream to live in Israel but for different reasons. Each was physically cut off from family and managed to fulfill her own personal quest. Sarah and Mordecai had joined a Zionist movement in the late 1930s with the goal of imigrating to Israel. It saved their lives. The author moved to Israel with her physician husband and young son in 1984. Judith Edelman-Green shares her personal journey to find spiritual fulfillment in her chosen country of Israel. In Israel, she reconnects with distant relatives who made aliyah during World War II, to escape the Nazi terror. These relatives then became the anchor which helped her understand her family's roots and connect her spirit with the present, completing the circle of life.

The author recounts many heart-warming experiences, many firsts in her life as she and her family adjust to a new land and new culture. The author learns to view death differently in Israel where she learns about the holiday called, the Day of Remembrance. It is a memorial day, when the name of every soldier who died in all the wars fought by Israel is publicly read at the cemetery. It was there the author decided to name her first child Rafael, in honor of Mordecai and Sarah's son, who died at the age of twenty, serving his country. The book is filled with precious recollections and remembrances of the author's relationship with Sarah, who is like a second grandmother to her. Sarah embraced Judith as a family member during her first visit to Israel, when Judith was a University student in 1978. After Judith and her family immigrated in 1984, Sarah helped them assimilate and adjust. She teaches her how to make favorite Israeli dishes and meals, especially eggplant. She shares her personal story of survival with Judith who learns about faith, courage and strength in the face of tragedy and adversity.

The author also hears true stories about relatives she never knew, one of whom was Mordecai's father and the author's grandfather, Kalman, who were brothers. He married Sadie, the author's grandmother, whom she also did not get to know because she died when the author was a baby. Yet, in Israel, Judith learns so many things about her grandparents which makes her feel connected and closer to them. In addition to sharing the discovery of her family's history and roots, the author alternates chapters and describes her own personal adjustment to life in Israel and how she raised her family in a new environment. She helps the reader understand the challenges of changing cultures. In 2001, the author visits Kalman, one of her few remaining relatives still alive in Europe. He is her dad's first cousin and also Mordecai's younger brother. He shares many gifts with Judith, such as, famly history, his story of survival, along with beautiful embroidery and a necklace which is filled with meaning for Judith. The author completes the book by describing with sensitivity and feeling, the last years of Sarah's life. This book is highly recommended. It is filled with many poignant true stories and is a wonderful reading experience. Erika Borsos (pepper flower)
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Particular Stories, Universal importance 16 Jan 2008
By Haim Shalom - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Edelman Green tells a story of two women, or one land, of a 60 year history, but really she tells a story of all time, of every journey, of every person who has thought to themselves "What have I done with my life?" or even more so, "What am I going to do with my life?"

Her writing is beautiful, inspiring, moving. It brought a soldier to tears, when she tells of the death of a young cousin, it brought a husband to look again at his wife, and understand exactly why he loves her, it brought a student to understand the importance of learning. All this insight in one book - but more than that, a truly gripping and meaningful story which leaves the reader with a sense of purpose.

Many thanks to the author - for the inspiration, for the entertainment, but most of all for sharing her life with us.

This book is a must read for anyone wanting to understand the immigrant experience in Israel.

Haim Shalom
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful lessons to be learned 8 Dec 2007
By M. Rabin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
I loved this book. It reminded me, at times, of Annie Lamott's Operating Instructions in its honest, first person memoir style of delivery. Its historical nature was fascinating and it delivers a slice of Israeli life that I found intriguing. It's poignant, and easy to read and become involved in.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars This book is in the top class of memoirs 21 Sep 2010
By Israel Drazin - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
There are many books, memoirs, histories, stories, that tell about the experiences of newcomers to Israel, but this is in the top class of these books. It is not instructional. It is closer to a novel of the interesting experiences of two families, at two very different periods, an aliyah from Hungary in 1939 and another from America in 1984, by distant relatives. Both are women. Both come to Israel and leave parents and siblings behind. Both arrive with an intense love of the ancient Jewish homeland. Both are not religious. Both encounter difficulties, for they were not born in their new land. Both are immigrants. Though both learn to speak Hebrew well, both have accents that tell Israelis every day of their future lives that they were not born in Israel.

The story is told in a kaleidoscope manner, one family, then the other, then the two together, in no orderly chronological manner, although the dates are always given. The opening chapters, for example, tell about 1939 and 1983, then 1968 and 1984, then 1978, then 1944, then 1978 and 1930. This kaleidoscope effect adds striking captivating color and drama, and broadens and deepens the readers' reading experiences when they see and understand the connection between events and the participants' reactions.

Thus, this is more a novel than a tale of difficulties faced by immigrants. There is the story of Sarah's strong desire to join the Palestinian youth group in Hungary, when Hitler was threatening the lives of Jews, and how she did so despite the strong refusal by her mother who was concerned that she would be living with boys and would neglect the Jewish practices that were so important to her and her husband. Then, in 1939, when Sarah was chosen to immigrate to Palestine as part of the Youth Aliyah, her mother begged her, "Take me with you." But it was too late; the transport was restricted to the young. As the Nazis marched toward her house to take her, Sarah's mother climbed to the top of her barn and hung herself. Sarah's father was offered the chance to hide with non-Jews, but refused and allowed himself to be taken by the Germans to his death because he felt that living with non-Jews would adulterate his Jewishness. These pathetic tales are riveting when told with details by Edelman-Green.

And so, Sarah comes to Palestine with a boy she met in the youth group. They marry and have children. One is Raphi who is shot and killed during the Yom Kippur War of 1967, when he volunteers to go to the front lines, when he has no obligation to do so. Sarah attends a lecture sometime after her son's death. The rabbi speaks about the difficulties Abraham suffered when God told him to sacrifice his son. The rabbi gives as an example of sacrifice Abraham Joshua Heschel marching with Martin Luther King. Thinking of Raphi and her life without him, Sarah rose and left.

Judith Edelman-Green comes to Israel with her husband in 1984 and names her son Raphi after the first Raphi. Her Raphi, like all Israelis, must serve in the military, and Judith worries constantly during all the years of his service that he may die like the first Raphi.

The relationship that develops between Judith and Sarah is remarkable and a pleasure to read about, as is this entire well-written book.
5.0 out of 5 stars Moving and Life-Affirming Memoir 15 Sep 2008
By Louis N. Gruber - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Hardcover
Sarah arrives in Israel--with nothing--in 1939, fleeing the nazi holocaust in which most of her relatives will perish. Judith Edelman leaves her comfortable life in Wisconsin to first visit Israel in 1978 and later to immigrate permanently (make Aliyah) in 1984. Almost by chance Judith makes contact with Sarah and her Israeli cousins, and finds herself part of an extended family with branches in Israel, America and Europe. As she hears tales of Sarah's immigrant experience, Judith finds immeasurable help with her own.

Immigration is difficult, the author tells us--learning a new culture, new ways of doing things, new sources of support, and new rules--mostly unwritten. Immigration is not just moving to a new country, but every major transition in life. You have to start over again, learning the new customs, roles and rules.

Author Edelman-Green has written a heart-warming and life-affirming memoir that spans three continents and several generations of her family. I found the story gripping and engaging from the beginning to the last page. I loved it and came to feel like part of the family. The book is not without its minor flaws. For one, it's hard to keep track of all the relatives. It would have been nice to have a genealogy to refer to, somewhere in the book. Some beautiful family photos are included on the books's cover, but never identified. More photos, with the names, would have been appreciated. Still, this is a unique and precious book, and I recommend it highly. Reviewed by Louis N. Gruber.
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