He was born before the First of the World Wars as Sender Berner, in a shtetl in a small town in Poland. His mother was a hard working woman with such strength, that even when giving birth she doesn’t so much as flinch. Moyshe Berner, her husband, was a pious Jew and spent most of his time studying the Torah, as did the other religious Jews in his town. After the First World War the Berner family were a target for antisemitism, so they moved to Kalisz, a city thirty kilometres away.
Sender grew up in the city, but he didn’t aquire the love of Judaism as his father and older brothers had.instead he found himself amongst a Zionist group. Just before Poland was invaded by the Germans, Sender was told he had to leave Poland. He had no time to say goodbye to his family. He was smuggled with his group across Europe, to Palestine. Only they didn’t quite make it. The war prevented them from crossing into the port, and instead they ended up in Cairo, where Sender joined the British Army and served in East Africa.
He survived the war and finally came to his beloved Palestine, but his need to survive had now become s very strong element in his psyche. He became obsessed with working and tracing his lost family. Finally he gets word one of his brothers is alive in Australia. They correspond and Sender decides he must go. He finds the easiest way to immigrate is with an English wife. He is introduced to an English lady through a pen friend of his friend, and she becomes his wife and ticket to Australia.
But for Rose, his daughter, her journey is in reverse. She eventually resolves her personal alcoholic problems by recovering her family’s lost history as she unintentionally finds herself in Kalisz, half a century after the holocaust.
Targeted Age Group:: 16- adult
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
This story was inspired through my own healing journey. As a child of a holocast survivor, I had to work hard to build self confidence and find my purpose in life. After so many workshops and therapists I found the key to my healing was in Kalisz, and connecting to family members I’d never known.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
I created my characters from researching into how a Jewish family of survivors would behave. They are a typical religious Jewish family with typical Jewish traits
Sweat trickled down Senders’s brow. He couldn’t fully understand what was said, but he got the understanding they were not going to Palestine at this point in time. He turned to look for his friend Dov, who was much more fluent in English.
“There is political trouble,” he said.”We’ll remain here for a while. Don’t worry, though. The Hagganah knows we’re here. They’ll help us.”
They were marched out of the courtyard to a nearby compound amidst a sea of chaotic activity.Other people were being herded from trucks. Women and children were separated from their men by the soldiers. Their cries and pleas to remain together were the worst sounds Sender had ever heard; he felt so distressed. He began to worry about how dismal the situation was.
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