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I just ordered a great book from amazon (gasp!): Joshua and Isadora: A True Tale of Loss and Love in the Holocaust by Michael Benanav (author of Men of Salt). Though I almost never pay full price for books anymore, this one is well worth it. I highly recommend it!! (but no, I won't be posting it, this one's a keeper!)
Although I haven't read it yet, I know how talented the author is, and I'm familiar with the fascinating story he has to tell, so I know that's it's a wonderful book. It's about his grandparents' journey from the Holocaust to Palesetine, their fight for Israel's independence. Michael retraced their footsteps through Eastern Europe as they escaped, and sent back some wonderful emails to the family (I used to be friends with one of his uncles). This couple lived a pretty amazing life.
On December 3, 1944, the Toros debarked from the Romanian port of Constanta bound for Istanbul.
Among the 1,000 or so passengers was twenty-year-old Isadora Rosen. She was with her younger brother, Yisrael. Their parents, dead. They were two of the 600 orphans on board who had somehow emerged from the frozen ghettos and camps of Transnistria—the “Forgotten Cemetery” of the Holocaust in what would prove to be a test run for Hitler’s Final Solution. There, Isadora had lost most of her family, a few of her toes, and almost her life. The refugees on board, all survivors, were heading for Palestine, where some hoped to help build a new nation, and others to just rebuild their lives.
Also on board was Joshua Szereny. A Czech citizen, he’d escaped over the Apuseni Mountains from a Jewish slave labor unit in the Hungarian Army, while the unit was being marched toward a train bound for Auschwitz. The rest of his family had already been sent to Auschwitz, though he didn’t know it. Once in Romania, he learned of the boat bound for Palestine. Upon arriving in Constanta and making contact with the organizers of the refugee mission, his name was instantly recognized, since his father had been one of Czechoslovakia’s most prominent Zionist leaders. He was invited to sail to Istanbul and was asked to take charge of all aspects of passenger life during the journey. It was in this capacity that he stumbled across Isadora, crying on deck, when everyone was supposed to be down below. Joshua and Isadora—married three days later on a train rattling across the Turkish countryside, with no common language between them—were to become award-winning author Michael Benanav’s grandparents.
Benanav recounts the unlikely twists of fate, the luck both tragic and miraculous, that steered his grandparents through a world war and placed them on the deck of the Toros. He then follows their story through their fight for Israeli independence from the British. On his own personal journey back to the Old Country, Benanav visits many of the places that were so important to his grandparents’ early lives. Benanav weaves a beautiful tapestry of past and present. And he writes movingly about its effect on himself.
Last Edited on: 8/4/08 2:31 PM ET - Total times edited: 1
It's pretty new, just came out in April. And he's not a well-known author yet, only has one previous book, Men of Salt. Also a great book, about the ancient salt routes in the Sahara, and the caravans that still travel them.
Hmm, just checked our library, and they don't have it either. That one does surprise me, becasue he has a local connection.