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Sown in Tears Paperback – September 18, 2012
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About the Author
Beverly Magid was a journalist and a longtime public relations executive in the entertainment industry before her first novel, "Flying Out of Brooklyn" was published in 2007. During her entertainment career, she interviewed among many others, John Lennon, in one of his first interviews after he had splt from the Beatles. She represented a long list of performers, writers, artists, including Dolly Parton, Whoopi Goldberg, Jacqueline Bisset, Martin Landau, Tom Skerritt,Dear Abby, Rutger Hauer, Neil Diamond, John Denver, etc., etc. She lives in Los Angeles, but confesses to always being in a "New York state of mind." A political junkie, she is also passionate about environmental, animal and human rights issues.
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We may learn the facts about Czarist Russia in the early twentieth century — the pogroms, and the devastation of Jewish communities by the Cossacks from history books, but let a writer tell the story of an individual woman, and her family—her husband killed in a raid in their small village, she’s left on her own with two children to care for and no way to survive except her strength and wits and willingness to go against tradition— now the time and the place and the people are real. And we can’t help but have our minds and our hearts opened by living this history with these compelling characters.
Thanks to Beverly Magid’s research into place and time, and her careful use of details throughout, we can feel the bone-chilling cold, the scratch of rough wool against skin; we taste the soup and smell melting wax of the candles. And so we both fear for and cheer on Leah Peretz as she struggles to provide sustenance for herself and her children, as she trusts and mistrusts her heart and her attraction to a Russian Army captain, as she questions her faith and tradition, and as she becomes involved in secret and dangerous gatherings of would-be revolutionaries. It is both a personal story and a story of a particular time and place and events in history that we need to know and to remember.
If you loved "Dr. Zhivago," you'll enjoy "Sown in Tears."
"Sown in Tears." Beverly Magid brings us this history through the story of Leah and her journey through those horrific days to a hopefully safe and happy future.
Janice Van Horne
The most offensive point in the book, for me, was the description of the intimate relationship between Leah and her husband. A Jewishly observant man does not have to be a great scholar to know that he must make his wife happy in this area of marriage. His responsibility to meet his wife’s needs BEFORE his own, is paramount. That Leah's husband was a Torah scholar seemingly unaware of this point is simply impossible.
Regarding the husband’s habit of bringing home strangers with nowhere to eat or lodge on Shabbos (Sabbath) dinner met with such ire by Leah: Even when there has not been much to eat, wives and children have always, regarded it an honor to host Shabbos guests . It is part of the “mitzvah” (commandment) falling under the category of treating one’s fellow man or woman as he/she would like to be treated.
Next: "Leah" says that Jews are not allowed to eat animals with cloven (split) hooves. Wrong, wrong, WRONG. By definition, a kosher-to-each animal must meet two criteria, both present in the animal in question. The animal must have authentically split hooves, AND chew cud. Never, ever, one without the other. Only if it is missing one or the other is it not kosher.
As far as Orthodox tradition "insisting" that women shave their heads, that's a terrible canard. Yes there are some Hungarian Jewish women whose did this for the following reason, and their descendants carry it on our of respect for their ancestors: The Hungarian Jewish women decided to make themselves unattractive during the period of time that the Cossacks were storming Jewish towns, slaughtering Jews and their families, stealing all they could steal, and setting everything afire. Either before, during or after their murder and pillage, they would rape the women. By shaving their hair, Jewish women made themselves unattractive, thus less susceptible to rape. By shaving their hair, these same women were also thumbing their noses in response to the "New Judaism"'s striking down the Torah obligation of a married woman to cover her hair. They were saying, “You won’t cover your hair, which is a Torah commandment? Well we’re going to shave ours off.”
But shaving one's hair is not a Jewish law, nor does covering one's hair apply to never-married girls or women. In fact, the Gemorrah calls the practice "disgusting." By far and away most Orthodox Jewish women do no such thing. Nevertheless, these women's descendants who carry on the practice of their ancestors are given tremendous respect. Their ancestors were protecting the sanctity of their bodies and souls.
[I remember a Hareidi teacher of mine telling me about a beautiful, well-turned out, even fashionable Orthodox woman from Brooklyn. This lady wore a wig of the sort that had come a long way from the wigs of yesteryear. Torah law permit's a woman to use a wig to cover her hair. My teacher was shocked when she found out that when this lovely woman married, she had shaved her hair instead of merely covering it with a scarf or a wig. My teacher asked her why. The woman straightened her back and said fiercely and powerfully (another shocking phenomenon), "My great-great grandmother did this to save herself from the Cossacks, my great-grandmother did the same, my grandmother and mother did it in honor of the others. I am proud of them, and will not turn my back on that tradition. And I doubt that my children will."]
Getting back to the book: Now, I don't know if protagonist Leah changes her viewpoint of Gd in the end, but her taunting her husband about his belief in an "indifferent Gd" is sickening. Orthodox Jews (presumably including the mythical Leah), knows that Gd took a whole people out of a ruling nation, Egypt. This is one of the first precepts of Orthodox belief. It was a one-and-only-one-time phenomenon. Gee. I think He must have cared.
Regarding rebellious young people: Of course the young people of that time were determined to stand up for their rights. Ms. Magid applauds this. Yet it this is the same group who, for the most part, ended up forsaking Jewish belief, law, and tradition in favor of whichever “ism” it was. I don't judge them, as the their extent of poverty had to have been have been unbearable. Fighting for their rights and emancipation seemed the way out. Well, it may have broken lines of poverty for a time, but a few decades later, poverty was imposed upon them once again, this time by non-Jews who turned them into lampshades, soap, and ashes.
By the way: A Holocaust Survivor's rejection of faith in light of what he/she had seen and been subjected to is utterly discreet from any of this. How so many did hang onto their faith, to me is a miracle of strength.
For those that like the book for its story line, please be aware that, putting aside the qualities of writing and plot, unfortunately fallacies wind through at least the first half of this book (which is as far as I got) regarding Torah Judaism – which is Leah’s spiritual home.
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Leah's village is devastated and her husband killed during a pogrom in 1905...Read more