A Sweeping Saga of Faith, Friendship, and the Enduring Bonds of Family
It is 1785 and enforcers of the Spanish Inquisition are still hunting down and torturing conversos—Jews who outwardly converted to Christianity, but who practiced their Judaism in secret. When nineteen-year-old converso Anica Amselem refuses a cut of pork in Valencia’s marketplace, she and her husband Efren come under the suspicion of the Church as secret Jews, endangering their lives and that of their infant daughter Isabel. Accompanied by Anica’s beloved friend and servant, Mariana, they set sail for Charleston, South Carolina where Efren’s uncle, Philip, owns a rice plantation. Within weeks of their arrival, Anica’s promise to her dead mother to continue to observe her Jewish faith and light the Sabbath candles, and Efren’s plans to start a shipping business begin to unravel. Even as they form unexpected bonds with the young house slave Ruth and her mother Lindy, Anica and Efren are forced to confront Philip’s secret life of debauchery, and the horrors of enslavement.
Set against the background of eighteenth and nineteenth century Charleston and Philadelphia, In Freedom’s Light creates an intricately woven tapestry of three generations of the unique and unforgettable Amselem family. Meticulously researched and driven by beautifully drawn characters, the novel is filled with their joys and sorrows, hopes and disappointments. A tale of the power of love and friendship, it is, above all, an affirmation of family beyond race and bloodlines, and the strength of the bonds and traditions that unite us.
Click here to preview the first chapter.
A Jewish Family’s Epic of Hope, Tragedy, and Survival
Easter Sunday, 1903 ushered in three days of government-sanctioned brutality on the Jews of Kishinev, Russia. In the aftermath of slaughter, rape, and destruction, Meyer and Sadie Raisky escape to New York City with their thirteen-year-old daughter, Miriam. Their home and business gone, reeling from devastating personal tragedy, the Raiskys cling to the promise of a better life in America. But upon arriving in New York City, Miriam and her parents quickly learn that promises are easily broken in the tenements of the Lower East Side. When circumstances force Miriam to abandon the schooling she loves to help support her family, she goes to work at the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, joining other immigrant girls who work long hours for low wages in shocking conditions. Against the backdrop of emerging workers’ rights and women’s rights, Miriam’s social conscience and young womanhood both blossom when she falls in love with a union organizer. Bringing early 20th-century New York to life, Ashes is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and a haunting elegy to the young women whose suffering inspired changes to working conditions in the garment industry.
Click here to preview first chapter.