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)