Among the LivingPosted: May 28, 2017
Among the Living by Jonathan Rabb
Yitzhak Goldah arrives in Savannah in 1947 to stay with his cousins Abe and Pearl Jesler. They are very welcoming, nickname him Ike, and introduce him to their friends at the Conservative synagogue. Goldah, 31, worked as a journalist in Prague, and is a Holocaust survivor. He starts working at Abe’s shoe store, where he meets widowed Eve, daughter of the local newspaper owner, who attends the Reform temple. African Americans are second class citizens in post war Savannah, and Goldah identifies more with Calvin and Raymond from the shoe store than the prosperous Jews, who first settled Savannah in 1733. The clash between the Conservative and Reform Jews is especially hard for Goldah to understand. Everything seems so normal and prosperous, as if the war never happened, although there’s a subplot about Abe Jesler getting shipments of Italian shoes through shady connections. A woman from Goldah’s past arrives, and they talk briefly about life during the war. The horror of their experience is not minimized, but isn’t the focus of this powerful, moving story about new beginnings. Savannah is vividly drawn, the story is well-crafted, and the characters seem real.