Please Say Kaddish for Me: A Novel for Everyone

PleaseSayKaddishForMe

From the very first page of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’s novel Please Say Kaddish for Me, I was swept up in Havah Cohen’s story. I was spellbound, so much so, I didn’t want to put this book down. The book is simultaneously driven by character and events at a quick pace, divided into four parts. The year is 1899 in Czarist Russia, a time marked by Jewish pogroms in which entire families are randomly massacred. 

The book begins with a horrible tragedy of Havah Cohen, our main heroine, and the slaughter of her family in the middle of the night. When we meet her, Havah is driven from her home, shocked and grief-stricken, and wanders barefoot, reciting the Hebrew prayer of Kaddish, a prayer for the living for the dead and for the bereft.

Because Havah is a rabbi’s daughter, she is well versed in its study which was uncommon at the time. So, when a father and son, Yussel and Arel Gitterman, find Havah at their doorstep, mumbling Kaddish, they are awestruck and quickly come to her aid. What’s more, Arel who has been promised to another since the age of 13, is completely captivated by Havah’s presence. When Havah is conscious and recovering, she too becomes aware of her forbidden connection to Arel. At the heart of this story is romantic, passionate love between Havah and Arel, and the barriers that they face.

This story is also about the love of family and of community, and how this love transcends the horrible acts inflicted upon them. There are many characters in Ms. Wisoff-Fields’s story, but I was never overwhelmed, but rather carried along, almost as an eavesdropper, but just as easily a participant, for it is hard not to get wrapped up in the anguish of this community and the depth of their suffering. Her descriptions of the horror of these brutal acts are gruesome, vivid and difficult to read, I believe as they should be.

I am struck by the authenticity and honest portrayal of this dire time in history, and by this family’s resilience, their bravery and the way that they lift one another up. Their Jewish faith holds them together, but their traditions and customs are also challenged in the face of all that is at stake and with the complete upheaval of their lives.

Wisoff-Fields’s storytelling is keen and her writing both crisp and fluid, but underneath it all, the author’s passion is undeniably present. There are no words wasted here. As I read, I felt as though I was standing next to them, hearing them breathe and listening to them speak. It’s not often I feel this way when I read a book. Her characters are well-drawn and, in fact, as the author is also a talented artist, she has actually illustrated many of her characters and provided character studies. You can find them posted on her blog Addicted to Purple and on her publisher’s website Loiacono Literary Agency.

As many of you may know, Rochelle is also the host of a wonderful writing community, Friday Fictioneers. There, I have enjoyed many of her well-crafted stories. It is with great pleasure that I recommend Please Say Kaddish for Me. As I read the last page, I thought to myself, “Everyone should read this book.” Now, more than ever, this story needs to be read and shared, because unfortunately the world is not a more kind and gentle place. I hope that this story also finds a place inside the classroom, with its message of compassion and courage of the human spirit.

Please note this story is the first part of a trilogy. Her sequel From Silt and Ashes is also just recently published and available.
fromsiltandashes

You can find Rochelle’s books here on Amazon and from W&B Publishers. 

Here is video for Please Kaddish for Me, I think you’ll enjoy. (used with permission)

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Cooped Up – Friday Fictioneers

This week marks Rochelle Wisoff-Fields‘s third anniversary with the Friday Fictioneers. Congratulations, Rochelle! Hats off to her leadership and dedication she has given to this group. I enjoyed this community and have watched it grow, not only in number, but in the strength of its writing. I want to say thanks to everyone for making it such a great part of my writing journey. September marked three years with this group, and I was having so much fun I didn’t even realize it. Yay!

As allowed, I re-running a story. The timing couldn’t be better as I have a busy couple of days ahead. I promise I will get to reading stories. However, it may have to wait until the weekend. It’s kind of nice to come back to a story and think, “Yeah, I liked this story.” It’s a nice feeling. I just changed one word, even though I’m over the 100-word limit.

copyright-ron-pruitt
PHOTO PROMPT © Ron Pruitt

(105 words)

Cooped Up 

Sweat, soap, aftershave, and a piercing, spicy floral pervaded the air. I slid my way down the aisle, each step unveiling a nod, a smile, or a distant gaze.

The promise of a sixteen-hour journey influenced my choice of a traveling companion.  I sat next to an elderly lady with her head in a book, hoping I might pass the time with sleep. Directly across from me sat a man with a cage hidden under a towel. Wisps of feathers escaped onto the grimy floor.

Cluck. Cluck. He shook the cage and offered me a toothy grin. Am I the only one who’s hearing this?

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My original story can be found here.

For more stories from the Fictioneers, click here. 

Before Social Media – Friday Fictioneers

I finally got my act together and put together a story for Friday Fictioneers. I love this prompt, courtesy of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, who also the lovely hostess of Friday Fictioneers. It also happens to be Rochelle’s birthday. Happy Birthday, Rochelle! I hope you’re enjoying yourself and relaxing. Rochelle’s book Please Say Kaddish For Me was recently published. It’s getting great reviews. Check it out!

The challenge is to write a 100-word story based on a photo. Why not give it a try? All are welcome.

bay-windows
PHOTO PROMPT – © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields

(100 words)

Lana loves to put on a show. Ivy and Alex put on shows for each other. William, a student, hides behind drawn blinds. Octavia, lost in her own apartment, is on a strict pill diet. Lloyd, the overachiever, wakes before dawn with his stocks and treadmill. Sheamus, this guy never leaves his apartment, never sleeps. He’s always watching; across, below, inside. Conveniently across from his vantage point, a reflective window shines light on their misery.

It’s the perfect mix of joie de vivre and desperation. With penthouse views, Lloyd sips his brandy, watching the watched. Misery is calling his name.

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For more stories from the Fictioneers, click here.

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Engineered for Precision – Friday Fictioneers

It’s time for Friday Fictioneers, a group of writers who accept the challenge of writing a 100-word story based on a photo. It’s a lot of fun and all are welcome to participate. 

I’m really late this week! I apologize for my lateness. Happy 4th of July to all who are celebrating the holiday. 

Thanks to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for hosting the Friday Fictioneers and to Jean Hays for providing this week’s wild photo. If you would like to join in, here are instructions. 

My story follows. 

PHOTO PROMPT – © Jean L. Hays

Genre: Humor (100 words)

Engineered for Precision

“Here’s the Mercedes.” The salesman ushered her towards the minty green car. “It’s luxurious, engineered for precision. You really can’t go wrong.”

It was a smooth ride, but she noticed a rip in the seat and that a few buttons jammed. She hesitated before signing.

Before long, the electronic windows stuck in a permanent status of open, rolled down to precisely the place they were when the buttons stopped working. Through rain, sleet, and sizzling heat, passengers arrived at their destination with hair resembling a tumbleweed and their voices cracking from yelling over the wind.

Still, it was a Mercedes.

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Click here for more stories from the Fictioneers.

Only the Walls – Friday Fictioneers

“I know your father. He comes in here like a cyclone,” said Uncle Bobby, eyeing the boy.

Jordan popped ice cubes into a glass, and filled it with water. He had built a fortress around him, impenetrable to the smell of his father, locking the doors before he heard footsteps outside. If his mother so much as heard his father’s voice, she buckled like a cardboard box.

“Did he want money? Keys to the car?” “He’s dead to me now.” Jordan’s voice shook as his face hardened like stone. “You heard me.”

“It’s only you, me, and the walls, son.”

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Genre: Mystery (100 words)

Copyright – Mary Shipman T

Thank you to our wonderful hostess, Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Please visit her Addicted to Purple blog for instructions if you would like to participate in this challenge. All are welcome.

Thank you to Mary Shipman for providing the photo.

Click HERE for more stories from the Fictioneers.

 

Clean Slate – Friday Fictioneers

Clean Slate

Freya looked past the fence into the mist, her eyes piercing into darkness.

“It’s too thick, Freya. We’re too late,” Eli turned around.

“You must free your mind, Eli. Let it go,” Freya said, tilting her head. He heard the soft-spoken wisdom of their mother.

She gathered the fog in a circular motioning of her arms, creating a wind around them.

“Hold my hand. Now.” Freya pulled them in one motion through a rush of water. They collapsed on hard, cracked dirt, their feet tangled in barbed wire.

“No, Freya. I want to go back.”

“We can never go back.”

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Thanks to the wonderful leadership of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields and to all of the talented writers I have the pleasure of knowing through this amazing group. Thanks to Erin Leary for this week’s photo for the prompt.

I’m putting on my fantasy wings today and continuing my story of the brother and sister duo, Eli and Freya. I will write of story about them someday. I can feel it. I hope you will indulge me in my experimenting here.

If you are interested in participating, all are welcome. It has been a tremendous help for my writing. Why not give it a try? Click here for instructions.

For more stories from the Fictioneers, click here.

Genre: Fantasy/YA (100 words)

Copyright – Erin Leary

 

 

Drama Queen – Friday Fictioneers

Drama Queen

Offstage:

“It’s the director’s wife’s sister’s husband,” the stagehand said, whispering into the mic of his headset.

“No, it’s the brother of the director’s wife,” a voice answered.

“No.”

“Yes.”

Onstage:

The leading lady begins.

“Love is…

She throws her shawl on the floor

“…a slow caress…”

Offstage:

“She’s off script again,” said the stagehand.

Onstage:

Thud. Her shoes drop to the floor.

“Her lips on mine…,” she fixates on a woman in the front row.

She slides her dress past her waist, exposing her nipples to the air.

Offstage:

“It’s the director’s wife.”

“Fade to black.”

“Not a chance.”

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A huge thank you to Rochelle Wisoff-Fields for leading this pack, and to Kent Bonham for the photo. I love this prompt.

Having been in a few theater productions myself, I think the real drama happens backstage.

I went over a few words, but since some of my words are directional, I hope you’ll allow me a little latitude. (Fixed with Rich’s help. Thanks, Rich!)

Click here for more stories from the Fictioneers.

Genre: Humor (100 words)

Copyright – Kent Bonham