I think this was probably the best book I’ve read this year, perhaps one of my very favorite Jewish stories of the last few years. . As an Ashkenazi Jew, my knowledge of pre war and Holocaust Sephardi Jewish experience has been sadly lacking and frankly, barely existent, One Hundred Saturdays made a great way in changing that, I don’t think I can find a single thing to complain about, dislike, or otherwise negatively speak about his absolute gem of a book. I desperately want to meet Stella, or at least listen to her speak because Michael Frank was able to make her voice shine through every single word of this book, he was able to paint such a vivid portrait of Jewish life in Rhodes that I physically hurt when the timeline moved the pendulum closer and closer to the war years.
This is a must read for any person who has any humanity and desire to learn about Jews as real, vibrant citizens of the world and to truly understand what we lost in our world with the Holocaust and all the death that it wrought on the world. Read it, read it, read it. Also, Stella is amazing.
This particular book was an ARC form NetGalley that was sitting in my Kindle library for a rather long time. I don’t know if I have it in me to full on review it. It’s been almost 2 weeks since I finished it and my memory given stress of personal life right now is fuzzy.
I will say a few things about it though. I enjoyed getting a first person POV storytelling of Soviet Jewish first days in Israel. For me it’s a story of what could have been for my family and me, and what WAS for my uncle, aunt and their families in the early 90s. Coming to Jewish homeland, also Jewish, but really quite distant from what so many Israelis (especially those religiously observant) probably saw as real Jews.
As a snapshot of this particular type of immigrant experience, this book did a great job thrusting me as a reader into the universal story of trying to find your place in a place that supposedly belongs to you. It did an even better job giving me a taste of how my life might been different had my parents abandoned their plans for US. It would have been me being the teenage daughter trying to learn the new language, a daughter of parents who also would not have wanted the IDF for me and lol, let’s be honest, totally would have also looked for a husband to try to get me out of it. Even as visitor to Israel ( on my last count, I’ve been 5 times in 25 years), I identify with the palpable fear of terrorist attacks and I was there in the 90s when somehow it was a more real fear.
This wasn’t an easy book but definitely one worth my time.
It’s honestly kind of amazing to me how many I’ve purchased over the last decade plus (most on sale but a handful at full price). And they sit there, slowly accumulating via occasional purchase or as Net Galley ARCS, as I keep taking other library books out.
There are dozens of books that would be a great potential addition to this blog and I need to commit to writing again as I mentioned in my last entry.
So there, I said it, therefore, I must do it and I better be held accountable by those of you who actually continue to give my little blog the read of the day even as I forgot about it for several years.
It’s been, God, longer than I can remember since I really engaged with this site and that’s a shame. You would think that in a year of lockdown, blogging would be something one would have time for. But, what with a job and a toddler at home, and just general lockdown life, it’s been hard to think of anything other than the above mentioned.
I’d broken my arm at the end of September and instead of taking the time to fully heal, I went back to work far too fast and stressed myself for more than necessary. To the point that my physical therapist said pointedly to me that I needed more self care.
And then randomly it dawned on me this weekend that I miss this blog and perhaps, I hope, it can be my way back to some self care. To share my reads again.
I’m reading this unique ARC called “Jerusalem as a Second Language” about a Russian Jewish emigre experience in the land that she really doesn’t want to be a part of. so I think I want to share it with y’all when I’m done.