Monthly Archives: May 2012

Flowers, Flowers and More Flowers

Flowers, flowers and more flowers, are included in today’s post.

Orangeya jealous of my colors?

Snap to it!

Purple potpourri.

Visit Our World Tuesday for more photos from around the world. Visit Nature Notes Wednesday for more nature photos from around the world.

May 22, 2012 – 1 Sivan, 5772

No permission is granted to reproduce, copy or reuse my prose, reviews, writings, photography, etc., without my permission.

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Jewaicious Review – The Lost: The Search for Six of Six Million

The Lost: A Search for Six of Six Million, by Daniel Mendelsohn, is an excellent book, and compelling family chronicle that takes us on a journey throughout the world. It is part tour-de-farce and at times comical, yet the undertones are serious, strong and insightful. It is searing, tearing, and our hearts are in our throats, flying along with him in a frenzy through so many countries, He didn’t have time for jet lag, he only had time for truth and knowledge.

Mendelsohn’s childhood was somewhat bizarre. His grandparents and other extended family members would cry whenever he walked into a room. To them he was the spitting image of an uncle he never knew, his uncle Schmiel, who died during World War II. He became curious, wondering what was it about that uncle that made his relatives cry. What are the stories behind the man, the mysteries of his life, and the lives of his other long-lost relatives? What evoked such tears in his aunts and uncles? It was a given, it never failed to happen. This was the spark that caught the flames of his curiosity.

Mendelsohn was fascinated with genealogy as a youth, and considered himself to be the family historian. Little did he know, then, that the history he would be researching, documenting and accounting, would take him on a journeys and escapades to Israel, Australia, the Ukraine, Scandinavia and other countries in order to interview witnesses who knew his family members. He would become passionate, obsessed, untiring in his quest for the truth.

Mendolsohn was like a man possessed, and he couldn’t stop to even breathe until he put his family members to rest, in his search for identity, and truth. We feel his urgency, his unrelenting need to know, and feel anxious, ourselves.

Reading Mendelshon’s The Lost is involving, a commitment to learning about history, a page turner, like an intriguing mystery or spy novel. The historical content is extremely well-researched and amazing. The documentation of Mendelsohn’s travels and some of his family members’ travels in order to to find out what happened to six relatives during the time of the Holocaust is a descriptive blend that fills our senses and tears at our emotions. It is heart-wrenching, yet Mendelsohn does bring us a bit of comic relief here and there, between the pages. He also writes with intensity about ancestors and the past, and how families hand down tales and stories (often shielding their own pain or shame), from one generation to the next until the distorted truth is even believed by the original story teller.

Mendelsohn refers to The Bible, alluding to The Book of Genesis and Cain and Abel, in order to demonstrate brothers, betrayal, loss, familial ties, love, destruction, war. He ties the Biblical references together with the history of the Holocaust, contrasting and comparing events of The Bible to his own family’s background…they were from a small Shtetl, Bolochow, in the Ukraine. He scrutinizes each word verbalized, each word in each document in order to find the truth of the fate of the missing family members. The Lost is a book about the choices we make, and the consequences of those choices, whether positive or negative. It is also a story about origins/beginnings, and a story about travels towards truth, answers and endings, written in almost mystical fashion.

The historical Holocaust accountings in this book are amazing…so many witnesses…so little time regarding the stories needing documentation, and needing telling, but most of all, stories needing remembering. There were so many witnesses needing to speak (lest we forget). And, Mendelsohn, himself, along with other family members…I can’t even begin to describe my thoughts and feelings, while reading their reactions to what they see and discover in Bolochow (there’s a lump in my throat writing this). I read this book a while ago, and it has continued to stay with me, and recently read it once again, sparked by my own genealogical pursuits. I empathized and related to Daniel Mendelsohn’s trek, his journey through his ancestral past. That is the power of Mendelsohn as an author, that is the power of the book.

Mendelsohn is brilliant, and a masterful story teller and writer. His almost mystical manner of writing is not only articulate, but beautiful. Word images prevail on every page, and in almost every line, with drama and flair. His book is a tribute to those “Six of Six Million“, and a tribute to his own perseverance and endurance to set the story straight, to write it correctly, unedited and uncolored in time’s continuum. Daniel Mendelsohn’s journey was a personal one and a commitment to himself, and a sojourn and commitment to family, to those who perished and who were lost, to those living, to future generations. But, most of all, it is an extremely compelling and poignant read, and it is an incredible tribute to life…life in every realm.

I personally own and have read this book.

May 21, 2012 – 29 Iyyar, 5772

No permission is granted to reproduce, copy or reuse my prose, reviews, writings, photography, etc., without my permission.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Holocaust/Genocide, Judaism, Uncategorized

Sunday Scenes – May 20, 2012

A human being is only breath and shadow.
Sophocles

Books are only the shadow and life the real thing. I believe this as strongly as any belief I hold.
Esther Forbes

Visit Straight Out of the Camera Sunday for more photographs from around the world.

Visit Shadow Shot Sunday for more shadowy views.

Books I am in the process of reading:

Jacob’s Return

A Mind of Winter


The Choice to Be

May 20, 2012 – 28 Iyyar, 5772

No permission is granted to reproduce, copy or reuse my prose, reviews, writings, photography, etc., without my permission.

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Shabbat Skies and Shalom Within a Poem

Sabbath Queen

The sun has already disappeared beyond the treetops,
Come let us go and welcome the Sabbath Queen,
She is already descending among us, holy and blessed,
And with her are angels, a host of peace and rest,
Come, O Queen,
Come, O Queen,
Peace be unto you, O Angels of Peace.’

We have welcomed the Shabbat with song and prayer,
Let us return home our hearts full of joy.
There, the table is set, the lights are lit,
Every corner of the house is shining with a divine spark.
A good and blessed Shabbat.
A good and blessed Shabbat.
Come in peace, O Angels of Peace.

Sit among us, O pure Shabbat Queen, and enlighten us with your splendor.
Tonight and tomorrow–then you may pass on.
And we for our part will honor you by wearing beautiful clothing,
By singing zemirot, by praying, and by eating three meals.
And with complete rest.
And with pleasant rest.
Bless me with peace, O Angels of Peace.

The sun has already disappeared beyond the treetops.
Come let us accompany the Sabbath Queen’s departure.
Go in peace, holy and blessed.
Know that for six day we will await your return.
Yes, till next Shabbat.
Yes, till next Shabbat.
Go in peace, O Angels of Peace.

Hayyim Nahman Bialik

No permission is granted to reproduce, copy or reuse my prose, reviews, writings, photography, etc., without my permission.

May 18, 2012 – 26 Iyyar, 5772

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Jewaicious Review – This is America!

This is America!, this is an amazing journey and reading experience! Henye Meyer brings us a fascinating and intense look at the Jewish immigrant experience in New York.

Although a novel, I felt as if I were a part of the entire experience, and from the first page until the last page, I was eager to continue reading. I wanted to learn more about the hardships, struggles, social ideals and events, the economic situation and the general daily life of the immigrant. I wanted to inhale and exhale the situations they found themselves confronting.

It wasn’t an easy life for the Gordons, and the idealistic dream of what America would be like, quickly turned to disillusion on many levels. Jews and people of other cultures were almost instantly thrown into harsh struggles and turmoil, so to speak. The Jewish traditions of the shtetl meant very little in a world where money counted for everything in order to survive.

Although the Gordon family seemingly had it better in America, their emotions conflicted with that theory. Identity and assimilation were major issues for this family, they were typical immigrant family trying to fit into the scheme of things in a new land.

The Gordon’s adjustment was made a bit easier through the fact that “tatte” or the father of the household had emigrated first. The rest of them followed later on, but they at least had him to instruct them as to the social aspects of their new surroundings. Some of what he dictated did not sit well with “mamme” Gordon or with his sons and daughters, for differing reasons. The family unit was torn between the here and now, and the former life they had. The family dynamics led to disagreement and discord.

Old religious traditions, especially Orthodox practices, went by the wayside with “tatte” and with the oldest son. They no longer practiced the strict traditions that they had in the old country. They tried to impress upon the rest of the family that in order to survive and have enough for rent, food and other items of necessity they would all need to do their share and even work on the Sabbath. And, within that framework, they were also paying off the huge debt that was contracted for their emigration. Work, work, and more work, after all this is America. This theory did not go over well, especially with the three females, who were adamant about continuing on with their religious practices and traditions, and continue as they had before emigrating.

The strength the Gordon women displayed was incredible. Their will to keep tradition, yet move forward was inspiring. Their devotion to family and Jewish tradition was admirable.

From clothes to food, laundry and household temperatures, religion to working on the Sabbath, from the sweat shops to the union protests, This is America! is an incredible reading experience.

Strikes against workplaces and employers raged through the city, and the country, for that matter. Unions were formed and shops became “closed”. If one wanted to work during a strike, they had to cross picket lines. The women either took on simple hand work they could do at home, or worked odd jobs Sunday through Friday afternoon, literally changing jobs almost every week. Times were difficult and jobs seemed to be a dime a dozen, and individuals were replaceable with the bat of an eyelash. The times bore the economic struggles and the industrial struggles for better work conditions.

This was America in the early part of the 20th century. This was the Gordon family’s Jewish immigrant experience in America. Meyer’s writing is masterful, and story telling at its finest.

The novel is historically factual, and is an important piece of Literature, in my opinion. The author fills all of the senses with beautiful prose. I highly recommend This is America! to everyone. It is a book not to be missed. Henye Meyer has brought the past and the immigrant experience to the forefront, in every aspect.

May 17, 2012 – 25 Iyyar, 5772

No permission is granted to reproduce, copy or reuse my prose, reviews, writings, photography, etc., without my permission.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Historical Fiction, Judaism, Novels

Egret on Wednesday

Visit Nature Notes Wednesday and Outdoor Wednesday for more photographs.
May 16, 2012 – 24 Iyyar, 5772

No permission is granted to reproduce, copy or reuse my prose, reviews, writings, photography, etc., without my permission.

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