Applefeld, Aharon Laish.
Schocken Books 2009 231p 23.95 978-0-8052-9159-4 hs/adult
This is the story of a pre-WWII pilgrimage of Jews through Eastern Europe to Jerusalem. Told through the perspective of a teen boy in the convoy of horse drawn wagons, the lives of those making this trip show the trials and tribulations of this precarious journey to the promised land. Translated from Hebrew. This is the story of a pre-WWII pilgrimage of Jews through Eastern Europe along the Prut River to Jerusalem. The tale is told through the perspective of a young teen boy, Laish, orphan in this convoy of horse drawn wagons. As he relates what he observes, the reader is drawn into the trials and tribulations of the people making this perilous journey to the Promised Land. The Jews on this trip are people who are escaping persecution, poverty, and other hardships. There are divisions in the caravan: the harsh, hard drinking ex-con drivers; the devout old men; and the dealers, who trade, bargain, try to earn money, and sometimes delay the journey. There are others too: the blind, the mentally ill, the women who cook, mend, and clean. Although they are sometimes revered by the Jewish communities they pass along the way, they all encounter adversity on the way to the sea. They are often preyed upon by thieves (even some within the caravan), thugs, police, the corrupt, and even typhoid. The longer they travel, and it is years; their numbers dwindle. Some die and some run away. Will they get to Jerusalem and be free from all the burdens they suffer? Or not? Those questions are for the reader to decide. Translated from Hebrew, this book is excellently written and for mature readers. T. Weinraub