Where the Lilacs Bloom Once Again by Roni Rosenthal chronicles the story of one family as they traverse the most difficult path of all, life. Generations of the Postelnic-Isopovici-Stoleru-Rosanthal family do their best to live life in the face of heartless persecution.
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“We must give voice to and tell the stories of those who have been silenced.”
– Roni Rosenthal
Judaism is one of the oldest religions in the world. They have a beautiful heritage and an eclectic culture. However, all this is shadowed by a long history of persecution. Even before Hitler’s aggressive antisemitic policy, the Jewish people had been subjected to deplorable conditions in their very own countries. Despite their invaluable contributions to their nation’s economy, defense, and culture, they have been mercilessly discriminated against. To add insult to injury, countless Jews were silenced and prevented from sharing their stories.
Roni Rosenthal gives voice to those who have been silenced in her book, Where the Lilacs Bloom Once Again. The book chronicles the lives of Rosenthal’s ancestors. She brings to us her family’s story from the perspective of Rosa and Friddie. However, it is not merely the story of two women. It is so much more. Where the Lilacs Bloom Once Again is the story of a community; it is the story of a nation; the story of two wars; and most importantly, the story of a family spanning generations.
Rosa was born on the cusp of the 20th century to Joseph and Rebecca Postelnic. She spent an idyllic childhood with her four siblings in Piatra Neamț. However, things changed when her beloved mother passed away. Being the eldest, she had to take care of her family. All her younger siblings did their best to help her. When their father retreated into a world of grief and their financial situation deteriorated, twelve-year-old David left school and started earning for the family. However, they could not escape the wrath of antisemitism. The brave little boy was attacked and left for dead. Miraculously, he survived and went on to fulfill his dreams and serve his country. The Postelnic family did their best to get by. With time, everyone got married. Rosa lost her husband under mysterious circumstances. However, this did not stop her. She took care of her two children and everyone else in the family. It is indeed an honor to follow Rosa as she takes on the most difficult journey of all, life.
Friddie was Rosa’s niece. The only daughter of Isaac and Elvira Stoleru, the fiery beauty wanted to live life as a free Romanian woman. She defied her parents and married Frederick Karl, a mysterious man who was a stranger to everyone in Rosa’s life. Her parents graciously accepted their beloved daughter’s decision. Little did Friddie anticipate the storm that her marriage would bring in her life. She had no idea how drastically it would change everything for her.
Rosa was a pillar of strength. Despite all that came her way, she remained dauntless. David’s story broke my heart in more ways than one. The little boy grew up to be a great teacher and a wonderful family man. He realized all his dreams. To watch his dreams shatter, was a blow to my heart. The way he was betrayed by the country for which he gave up his leg during the Great War was despicable. David is someone who I would never forget about. Friddie started off her life as a privileged princess. Though her parents were of humble origins, they gave her everything she wanted. Her transition from a beloved daughter to a tortured prisoner was heart-wrenching. Through no fault of her own, she lost everyone dear to her. Yet, she never lost her faith, confidence, and above all, her ability to love. She rose and gave life another shot even after she fell to the very bottom. We should all learn from her.
Where the Lilacs Bloom Once Again, penned by Roni Rosenthal, is a masterpiece. Rosenthal made me feel every single emotion on the spectrum. I laughed when the family triumphed, I wept when they had to undergo unbearable suffering, and I was angered when I had to helplessly witness the inhumane discrimination against good people. I felt that the Postelnic-Isopovici-Stoleru-Rosanthal family was my own family. The photographs included by the author made the book all the more relatable.
I have to mention Roni Rosenthal is a brilliant author. She alternates between Rosa’s first-person perspective and Friddie’s third-person point of view seamlessly. The way she switches between timelines is masterful. Never once was I baffled at any point. Rosenthal’s dedication to this book is pretty evident. She has researched everything thoroughly. I cannot imagine the time she spent locating her long-lost relatives, gathering information from different sources, and getting accurate facts about Romanian history. We learn a lot about Romanian history from Where the Lilacs Bloom Once Again. Rosenthal gives us an in-depth view of the state of the Jewish people in Romania during the two world wars. She portrays the pointless persecution and the merciless campaign to annihilate Jews in such a realistic manner that it is bound to make you angry and cry tears of despair. I have to mention Baruch Abramovici here. He is truly one of those unsung heroes. I can’t imagine the strength he must have possessed to help everyone he could even after the death and destruction that he witnessed first-hand. Rosenthal also depicts the political situation of Romania during the 20th century. I was so intrigued after reading about it that I spent an entire day reading about King Mihai, King Carol II, and the various fascist as well as communist leaders of Romania. The author also talks about the establishment of Israel and the difficulties Romanian Jews had to undergo to relocate to the land of their ancestors. I truly appreciated the insight into the rich Jewish and Romanian cultures. The footnotes at the end of the pages with foreign words were quite educational. Also, I found the family tree as well as the timelines of the family history and Romanian history given at the beginning of the book to be very helpful.
I would be remiss if I did not talk about Roni Rosenthal’s love and devotion for her father, Yossi Rosenthal. Yossi was Rosa’s grandson. From Roni’s words, it is evident that he was a wise and humble man who loved his family and was dedicated to his work. Little Yossi’s interactions with his grandma, Rosa, were indeed a treat to read about.
Overall, Where the Lilacs Bloom Once Again is a book that is bound to take your breath away. I recommend this book to people who love reading memoirs. Anyone who has a soft corner for history, especially Jewish history and the world wars, would find this book to be a treat. In fact, I highly recommend this book to anyone and everyone. Where the Lilacs Bloom Once Again tells a story that everyone should know about. The book teaches you a lot and leaves you with a ton to think about. Above all, Roni Rosenthal’s Where the Lilacs Bloom Once Again shows us that we can all rise and live life to the fullest even when we are subjected to the greatest suffering imaginable. After all, hope never dies.
- Title: Where the Lilacs Bloom Once Again
- Author: Roni Rosenthal
- Genre: Memoir
- Theme: Family, War, Love, Survival
- Publication Date: August 27, 2022
- ISBN or ASIN: B0BC5LF1KQ
- Number of Pages: 215
- Minimum Audience Age: 13
(Note: 0=none, 1=a few, 2=considerable, 3=pronounced, 4=excessive)
- Sexual themes: 1
- Religious themes: 1
- Violence, self-harm, etc.: 3
- Crude language, expletives, swearing, etc.: 1
- Other adult themes: 0
- Content: 5 stars
- Writing Style: 5 stars
- Appeal to Target Audience: 5 stars
- Uniqueness: 5 stars
- Editing: 5 stars
- Other factors: 5 stars
- Overall: 5 out of 5
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