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Ostrich Feathers
Ostrich Feathers
Author: Miriam Romm
Publisher: Gefen Publishing House

Price: $15.95 
Special Price: $14.95
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Format: Paperback
ISBN 10: 9652294586
ISBN 13: 9789652294586
Catalog Number: 9789652294586
Number of Pages: 278
Year Published: 2009

Description:
A baby girl is born in the middle of the Second World War, and survives in a miraculous way thanks to the determination of her mother and the good heartedness of simple people.

An Israeli woman abandons her protected life and goes for a quest in the trail of her father, whom she has not recognized. An old Polish man that she meets in Krakow, is contributory to her research, and maybe actually complicates it.

A touching, thrilling book that interlaces universal origins: the unbreakable relations between past and present , between Jewish and Israel characteristics, between parents and their children and vice-versa. It teaches a valuable lesson of victory of the optimism on the laxity of the spirit and hopelessness.

“My first journey to Krakow in 2000 had unexpectedly changed my life. I had journeyed there to search for traces of my father and his family, about whom I knew nothing. In Krakow, I followed the ghostly tracks and fragments of memories left behind by my father - a quest that resulted in a great gift, the revival of a new, warm family.”
Miriam Romm


Reviews:
Ostrich Feathers is the story of Miriam Romm's search for her father, Moshe (Moniek) Grajower, who disappeared after being arrested and turned over to the Gestapo at the border between Hungary and Slovakia during the spring of 1944. This moving book relates a very personal story, and yet it carries a broader significance in relation to the Israeli and Jewish reality of our times. This is a story of closure. Not only does it reveal to us the fascinating, breathtaking story of Miriam Romm's success in her difficult, complex, almost impossible mission to find her lost father, it also illustrates various aspects of life in Israel for the European Jews whom the Holocaust had uprooted from their homes in Europe- and their children.

Miriam-Maria-Hedvika-Grajower-Gajewski was born on November 30, 1944 in Lubela, Slovakia while her mother, Leah-Lonka Grajower nee Haber, was in hiding in the house of a Catholic farming family. Her parents had wed a year earlier, after falling in love in Ghetto Bochnia, 50 kilometers East of Krakow. After the Nazi conquest of Hungary, where the two had been living, they decided to attempt a return to Slovakia. It was then that Moniek was captured and apparently murdered by the Nazis. Miriam and her mother lived in Mikulash until 1948 when they left for Paris. They lived in France until immigrating to Israel in late 1949 aboard the Negba. In 1950, Miriam's mother married Maximilian-Meshulam (Tonio) Lemm, a Polish Jew who had himself illegally immigrated to Israel aboard the Sakaria and who had lost his entire family during the Holocaust. Tonio adopted Miriam and raised her as his own daughter. In 1952, her sister, Nava, was born.

I read this entire book in one breath. It is a truly moving story and I strongly recommend it. But this isn't the only reason I chose to write about it. Ostrich Feathers is an extremely Zionist book. And it is Zionist despite the fact that Miriam convinces her mother, during the course of her search, to help her obtain a Polish passport- yet another expression of her growing propinquity to the country and the culture that her father had never left, the same culture which she somehow feels a part of despite the fact she has lived her whole life in Israel. Paradoxically, Miriam was able to choose to be a Polish citizen specifically because she and her family are Jews who consider Israel to be their home. Her mother had contemptuously thrown out her Polish passport and yet her mindset had in many ways remained Polish. With Miriam the opposite had occurred. Her state of mind is Israeli. Her longing is for the landscape of her mother's and father's homeland in Poland.

I believe this story further demonstrates just how essential it is for the Jews to have a state of their own - a state in which they do not constitute a minority and where they will not be persecuted and eradicated just because they are Jews; a state whose spoken language and public culture is in Hebrew and whose official holidays are Jewish; a state whose scenery as homeland is not at odds with the community's culture
Ruth Gavison
Law professor, the Hebrew University in Jerusalem, Senior Fellow Emeritus at the Israel Democracy Institute. (These words related to the original Hebrew edition published in Israel in 2007)

I was born in Krakow. As a child growing up in this city, I grew familiar with every one of its buildings. Ever since I've visited the city many times, passing through Sebastiana Street, Karkowska Street and the ever-romantic Planty Promenade which Miriam Romm describes so vividly in her book, Ostrich Feathers. I search for the familiar faces of my friends but nothing is left of the city's remarkable Jewish community. I find this to be very tragic.

However, Miriam's book does not deal with tragedy but with something more personal: namely, her search for traces of her father. This drama is worthy of the theater, her realization that somewhere out there is a father whom she has never met and whom she feels compelled to search for. This is the most interesting aspect of this well-written book, written with a force that carries the reader on from one page to the next.

I believe that as far as remembering those who have passed away, this book is one of the most successful memorials I have ever come across since the Holocaust. It is the memorial of an entire family tree, of all their acquaintances and all those who were lost. I consider Miriam's work to be a work of art. All modesty aside, I have read most Holocaust literature and have written some myself, but I do not wish to compare any of these to the work Miriam has done here. I believe that anyone who takes interest in the Jewish nation, its history and our recent past, should read Ostrich Feathers.
NAFTALI LAVIE (LAU)Holocaust Survivor and older brother of former Chief Rabbi Israel Meir Lau (These words related to the original Hebrew edition published in Israel in 2007)

In 1985, I traveled to Poland with the Mengele Twins delegation. Our visas were Romanian. For the right price you could get practically anything from Ceausescu, even Polish visas. In those days, Polish-Israeli relations were completely defunct with no one traveling to and from Israel. I met Kristina in Warsaw while eating dinner at the gloomy old Hotel Europa. Kristina recognized that we were a group of Israelis and struck up a conversation with us, or rather, with me, since I was the only Polish speaker in the delegation. She told me she had been born into a Jewish family but had been placed in the care of a Polish family as a baby. Her parents were murdered, her family was murdered, her entire village was wiped out and only she remained, baby Kristina.

Hundreds of thousands of Polish Jews met a similar fate. Only about one thousand of them have discovered their Jewish past, although most of them have decided not to return to their true religion out of respect for their foster families. Miriam Romm's story truly touches on this issue of identity-loss during the time of the Nazi inferno. Insightful, humane and touching, her story contains the essence of Jewish history in those dark times, and particularly the history of Polish Jewry, as she is tossed between adoptive father, Tonio, and biological father, Moshe Grajower who was lost in the forests of Poland.

The biographies of Polish Jews, and most European Jews, can beget countless more stories. It is not by chance that such writers as Primo Levi, Imre Kert?sz, Paul Celan, Nelly Sachs, Elie Wiesel (three of whom are Nobel laureates), are considered to be the high priests of memory while the Holocaust has become a new religion, embracing both the Jewish and Christian world as one. The fact that Miriam did not end up as yet another Kristina is due primarily to her mother's great courage and love. Such is the Polish-mother, known to us as the Yiddishe Mama.

Ostrich Feathers is yet another book in the endless annals of those who seek identity, those who search for their past, those who delve among the ghosts of the Holocaust and those who have steadfastly sprouted branches and leaves in their homeland and yet adamantly desire to discover their roots. The famous French philosopher, Paul Sartre, stated after his visit to Poland during the late forties: Nowhere else can such terrible life stories be found., and he was right!
Prof. Shevach Weiss
Holocaust survivor and former member of the Knesset (These words related to the original Hebrew edition published in Israel in 2007)