ARMED WITH PAINTBRUSH AND KEYBOARD

Published January 17, 2017 by rochellewisoff

burning-shul-complete

Chapter One

NATALYA, MOLDAVIA, THE PALE OF SETTLEMENT, EASTERN EUROPE, NOVEMBER 1899

 Gunshots and screaming woke sixteen-year-old Havah Cohen from a sound and dreamless sleep. She ran to her window and saw flames shooting through the roof of the synagogue. Dense clouds of black smoke poured through the windows as men with shovels and rocks smashed the stained glass. By moonlight she could see her older brother lying beside the road in a bloodstained night shirt. Her other brother, a few feet away, lay face down.

“Papa!” She screamed when she saw him run from the inferno clutching the sacred scrolls.

                                           ~~From PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields 

Published by Argus Publishing

Represented by Loiacono Literary Agency

***

burning-shul-step-2Above is the opening paragraph to my first novel PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME. To my knowledge, a shetl called Natalya, Moldavia never existed. On the other hand, the 1930 census lists my grandfather Sam Weiner’s birthplace as Rosinia, Poland which doesn’t seem to have existed either. I’ve searched the internet for every imaginable spelling. Then  last year a Holocaust survivor from Poland confirmed what I’ve suspected for some time. Rosinia was probably one of those villages destroyed by pogromists. 

I’ve often wondered how close to Havah’s story Grandpa’s came. All I know of his background came from my mother and a cousin. According to Mom, he came burning-shul-step-6over from a part of the country that went from being part of Poland to being part of Russia. It was part of the Pale of  Settlement in any case, the Jewish ghetto of Eastern Europe. Grandpa came to America at the age of 19 “with nothing but the shirt on his back.” He didn’t know his own birthday because those records that were kept in the synagogue had been destroyed. He taught himself to be a tailor. 

Sam Weiner circa 1940-Something

History tells many stories of rabbis who sacrificed their lives to save the Torah scrolls. Havah’s father, Rabbi Shimon Cohen does just that as PLEASE  SAY KADDISH FOR ME opens.

At that moment Havah’s idyllic childhood ends and her journey begins. PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME, FROM SILT AND ASHES and recently released, AS ONE MUST, ONE CAN follow Havah, her friends and family from that night in 1899 to 1908. 

havahs-triplets

Amazon  Amazon AU  Amazon UK  Amazon CA  Amazon DE  Amazon IT  Amazon FR  Amazon ES  Amazon IN  Amazon JP  B&N   Smashwords  KOBO  Scribd  Goodreads

Before the completion of AS ONE MUST, ONE CAN, my publisher asked if I would be interested in compiling a coffee table companion book that would include the character studies I’ve posted. It took a split second to answer that one! Presently I’m hard at work on this book which is due out this spring to be entitled: 

a-stone-for-the-journey-cover-idea

32 comments on “ARMED WITH PAINTBRUSH AND KEYBOARD

  • A coffee table book too? You’re such a gifted person, Rochelle! And what a horrific, dramatic opening to Havah’s story. A true turning point in her young life. Thank you for sharing your discovery about your grandfather’s villlage – horrific to imagine destruction enough to wipe a village from history.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Lynn,

      Thank you for such a generous compliment. Now that I’m finished (I think) with the character portraits it’s time to face the challenge of illustrating scenes from the books. Faces are much easier for me than scenery.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

      • That’s quite a challenge and I can see why the landscapes would be so tough – the human face speaks to us where perhaps scenery doesn’t. Your artwork is so integral to your books, I can see why the publisher asked you to create the book. A huge feather in your cap, I’d say. And always a pleasure, Rochelle .

        Like

  • Dearest Rochelle,

    As you know, I am currently reading “As One Must, One Can” and am totally back in Havah’s world after a long (in my humble opinion) wait! 😉

    I cannot wait for the companion coffee table book to complete my series!

    Lotsa love,
    Dale

    Liked by 1 person

  • I remember reading this and being reminded of a ‘church burning’ that happened down the street from us in the mid 70’s. The church was an African American church, and the perps were dressed in the white robes of the KKK. I remember it so vividly. I remember seeing them tie up a black man and beating him beyond recognition. The black man, a decorated Vietnam Vet, was forever scarred. He lost an eye and most of his face from burns that night. It still turns my stomach, brings tears to my eyes…and leaves me with a scream in my soul at man’s cruelty.

    Like

  • Querida Rochelle,
    AND … the talent continues to unwind. MAGNiFICENT NEWS that you’re doing a coffee table book. MUY BUENO !!!!
    Just reading that small excerpt has me waiting with baited breath for the whole story once I get my book. I’m sure I’ll be teary-eyed as I read. Looking forward … 😊
    Just thought I’d mention that there’s a Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg, Florida
    https://www.flholocaustmuseum.org/begin-here/
    Perhaps, you can visit their web-site and see if there’s anything helpful.
    Now, get to that coffee book work.
    Abrazos y carino,
    Isadora 😎

    Liked by 1 person

    • Querida Isadora,

      According to the post office, that book should be finding its way back to my mailbox soon. I’m keeping a lookout.
      The holocaust museum info could be useful. If they have a book store it might be an avenue.
      Gracias para tu amistad y abrazos y palábras simpaticos.
      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Liked by 1 person

  • Dear Rochelle,

    I am very touched and impressed. I “qvell” for what you are doing, recollecting oral (as well as seeking definitive corroboration of) Jewish history, while relating it via your personal vision/version of your own family past. How wonderful. Mazel tov. My love…. May you keep going and growing (no short jokes herein intended).
    Randy

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Bridget,

      It’s not something I take for granted I’m grateful for the talent..I hope that doesn’t sound arrogant. It’s not meant to be. My ability was my comfort and vindication in junior high school when art class came right after gym. Guess who was always last picked on the teams and couldn’t get off the knot for rope climbing. 😉

      I’m also happy we met. Perhaps one day we’ll make that a face to face.

      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

  • Congratulations! You are building an impressive body of work Rochelle.
    The mystery of disappearing Rosinia is tragic but also fascinating. Non-fiction book, pilgrimage and documentary tie-ins next? This is a piece of history that has been too long neglected.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dear Miranda,

      I wonder how many Rosinias there have been? I would dearly love to do a pilgrimage to those places I’ve only written about and seen on the internet.

      Thank you for your kind words.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

    • Dear Suzanne,

      Ever since I can remember I’ve wanted to be a professional artist. At some point, I think I was 9 or 10 my dad made an off the wall comment that I might not be good enough when I grew up. I had a full-blown tantrum.
      I’m not sure how this book will be formatted nor how it will play out but I’ll keep painting and putting one foot in front of the other

      Thank you.

      Shalom,

      Rochelle

      Like

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