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Escape from Mount Moriah: Trials & Triumphs of a Kid in a New Homeland Paperback – October 1, 2011
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The Amazon Book Review
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WINNER -- 2001 MPA -- "Excellence In Independent Publishing" Award
Engelhard, author of the best-seller Indecent Proposal, writes an anecdotal memoir relating the physical and emotional dislocation of his childhood due to the Holocaust and his family's escape from Nazi-occupied France. Rather than elaborate on the tribulations over the course of that escape, however, the author focuses on his family's inability to remain safely in one place and his father's incapacity to succeed in the new country.
The book consists of eighteen short anecdotes on what it meant for the author and his family to be poor, to be Jewish, and to be survivors. The voice is familiar and colloquial, giving the feeling of an oral tale, and the stories shift from watching the World Series on TV in a Montreal news and candy shop to the interiors of the Garment District.
Engelhard creates a central metaphor through his use of Jewish stories and symbols. He writes of his father as being steeped in Judaism and the Talmud. He is a man who argues at every synagogue in town, unable to understand why Jews, both in Canada and in the United States, fail to argue and question. Engelhard creates a parallel between he and his father and the way each chose to live their lives. The father returns to the Talmud to reason out his answers and the son turns to writing, stripping the situation from its detail to get to the real stories of fear, alienation, and familial love. Nevertheless, the book is, in many ways, a tribute to the faith and spirit of the father.
The memoir's true intention is realized in the final vignette --The Old Men and the Synagogue. Here, the author emerges fully cognizant of his relationship to his subject. He is now both a father and son, an American and a Jew. The identity that eluded him in the previous chapters is now intact, and that knowledge provides him with the authority to write clearly, concisely and movingly about understanding the continuity created by his belief. Life is the process of learning who you are,says Engelhard's father, a quote that best encapsulates the book and its project. --Foreword Magazine
... the refugee stories Engelhard preserves are boyhood memories of an almost Tom Sawyer character, albeit with ironic Yiddish twists adventurous, humorous, sometimes wonderfully strange. --Chris Leppek, Jewish News (Denver)
This book is a winner...to the child in each of us, living eternally...What makes me want to read Engelhard's books is the pleasant environment of his easy-flowing style, which percolates with a subtle sense of joy, possibly the result of his love of writing surging through every inspired or perfectly chosen word. --Author and Book Critic Linda Shelnutt
Jack Engelhard is a writer without peer and the conscience of us all. --Novelist John W. Cassell
From the Author
The only road still unmarked was this: the life of a child refugee.
This was terrain not well traveled, and so sketch by sketch I went ahead with this collection, motivated by no greater ambition than to its being a keepsake for my children. And once I got started I couldn't stop. It all came flooding back.
Yes, the children. It's so important for them (and their whole generation) to know--and to never forget.
The children must be made aware that the freedom they enjoy today in America--and too easily take for granted--comes with a responsibility to appreciate and respect the past.
Then comes the matter of anti-Semitism. To put it bluntly: It's still as pervasive as ever. I've spoken at enough college campuses to know that there are too many ministers of hate who have cleverly targeted the impressionable young and have gained a new world of adherents--among them blacks, whites, and even young Jews.
Thanks to them, I am convinced that for each Jewish kid growing up today, there's an anti-Semite to match. With some watering, they sprout like weeds.
And...who would have thought...that the greatest calculated massacre of all-time would produce, barely a generation later, an obscene legion of Holocaust deniers...people who say it didn't happen--just as there once were those who claimed that the earth was flat.
It was mostly for these reasons--that is, to wage against forgetfulness and the terrorism of lies--that the book's publisher, Rob Huberman--also a lover of words--encouraged the publication of this work, persuaded, as he was, that it possesses a universal message.
Maybe he's right.
Top Customer Reviews
But I can never forget that as a four through six year old he endured unimaginable fear during a harrowing two year odyssey which began as the gendarmes in his native France began rounding up Jewish families for Hitler's ovens, continued as bribed French partisans dressed as German officers bluffed the family past Gestapo roadblocks, continued on an impossible journey on foot across the Pyrenees, feared every knock on the door while hiding for two years in Fascist Spain, then finally making a mad, desperate dash for Portugal and a ship that took them to Canada. [Fortunately they didn't go to the US at first....the US actually sent boatloads of refugees back].
No...you'd never know this as you meet this young lad and follow his adventures...just every now and then you see guts and character those of us growing up in peace and freedom just don't get until we go to war or endure something similar.
CATCHER IN THE RYE is probably the most widely acclaimed novel of modern American literature.Read more ›
And isn't that what life is really like, after all?
Engelhard's account of his immigrant childhood in post-World War II Montreal is a series of highly evocative visits to a world that has all but faded away. Some of these trips are very intense and some are leisurely, but all leave an indelible impression on the traveler.
It is simply impossible to leave "Mount Moriah" the same as you came to it. For me, this has meant deepening my appreciation of personal family experiences and, on a professional level, improving my own writing.
After turning the last, bittersweet page, like the author himself, you too will yearn for just a bit more time with the "old men" (and women) who live on forever in this book.
That is evidently exactly what happened to film director Nikila Cole. So, she created "My Father, Joe", an award-winning short based on the very first chapter of "Escape from Mount Moriah". Accompanying the success of this supremely touching film, Cole said, in a recent interview, "People who liked the film really should read Jack Engelhard's book 'Escape from Mount Moriah'."
I second her advice and unreservedly recommend purchasing this slim, yet powerful, volume right away.
-- editor, columnist and copywriter Nissan Ratzlav-Katz
Engelhard takes the reader on a journey back to his childhood using eighteen childhood memories chronicled in Escape from Mount Moriah. As Emily Dickinson said, "There is No Frigate Like a Book" Jack's frigate sets sail, for first, the Pyrenees, Spain, Portugal, Montreal, and finally laid anchor in America.
The first story in the book, "My Father Joe" chronicles Jacks treacherous journey leaving behind more than 6 million people that would never make it out. The second story in the book, "Penn Station" captures the essence of New York, its gritty cab drivers and the Yiddish community.
My favorite story in the book, "Nobody Knows Anything" in the first sentence speaks a wisdom that is simple, yet powerful. It states, "Life is the process of learning who you are".
Engelhard's book has made me look at my own childhood through fresh eyes and this is why I would recommend "Escape from Mount Moriah" by Jack Engelhard.
I had the opportunity to interview Jack Engelhard on The American Perspective Radio Program. You can hear the interview in its entirety on The Student Operated Press under the author interviews section.
Also see: Judyth Piazza chats with International Bestselling Author Jack Engelhard on The American Perspective Radio Program, [...]