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Rosenfarb's Tree of Life Trilogy: It Takes a Village to Piece It Together

Updated: Jul 12, 2022

CORRECTED: Saturday, April 23, 2022 at 5:30-7:00 pm Pacific Time

Save the date to discuss Book III and the overall arc of the book, the trilogy, its characters and the ghetto as an entity. What did Rosenfarb disclose and what did she not disclose? What do you think she wanted us to see, feel and think? What was her view of her characters and their actions? Does she make moral judgements? Should you? What is YOUR view?


We have EIGHT WEEKS, so start now and take notes. Leave time to read slowly, give yourself breaks and recover from (God forbid) nightmares. . . .and to prepare. If you missed the discussion of Book II, you can watch or listen

to the recording.




Discussion of Tree of Life, Book II, on 2/19/22. Zoom video recording thanks to Alexis Krasilovsky.



Here's a reminder for you to choose one character --or more--whose trajectory from 1939 to 1942 you will be able to discuss. Who are they at the start of the trilogy? How do their circumstances change? How do they view their situation? What are their sources of strength? What decisive choices do they make? How do they face impending death and destruction? What did you feel for them and learn from their place in the story?


Another reminder: Some of the characters in Book I were "adopted" by YSIT members (in parentheses, below). But go ahead and change or double up on any of the characters. Choose ones that interest you the most, that drew you in, or perhaps repelled you, and that hopefully, through Chava Rosenfeld's trenchant writing, touched you profoundly.


Itche Mayer and his sons (Les Field), an impoverished carpenter with four sons, each a member of a different political party;


Samuel Zuckerman, a rich factory owner before the war;


Adam Rosenberg, another industrialist, his son who becomes a member of the Jewish Police, and his fashionable wife who goes insane;


Dora Diamand (Leah Light), an assimilationist high-school teacher and Polish patriot whose distance from her Yiddish speaking students decreases under the communal experience of Nazi oppression;


Esther (Haim Dov Beliak), a great beauty and ardent communist who is active in the ghetto underground;



Michal Levine, a doctor who compulsively writes letters that he never sends to a woman in Paris who he loved before the war;


Rachel Eibushitz (Gelya Frank), a politically committed high school student;



David (Doris Francis), Rachel's boyfriend;


Simcha Bunim Berkovitch, a writer modeled on Rosenfarb's mentor Simcha Bunim Shayevitch;


Mordechai Chaim Rumkowski (Alexis Krasilovsky), a real individual who founded and directed an orphanage before the war and becomes the Germans' puppet leader of the Lodz ghetto;


or Your Choice of other characters in Books I, II and III.


 



Want to re-orient yourself to the trilogy? Listen to this 1-hour interview with author Chava Rosenfarb's daughter and translator Goldie Morgenthaler.




 

Stay tuned for additional materials and updates. Email me at gfrank@usc.edu with questions or comments. You can also post directly to this blog. --Gelya Frank, 2/23/22





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