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Jonathan Tobin: Defending the Right to a Jewish State

Heather Hale: Compliment your kids without giving them big heads

Megan Shauri: 10 ways you are ruining your own happiness

Carolyn Bigda: 8 Best Dividend Stocks for 2015

Kiplinger's Personal Finance editors: 7 Things You Didn't Know About Paying Off Student Loans

Samantha Olson: The Crucial Mistake 55% Of Parents Are Making At Their Baby's Bedtime

Densie Well, Ph.D., R.D. Open your eyes to yellow vegetables

The Kosher Gourmet by Megan Gordon With its colorful cache of purples and oranges and reds, COLLARD GREEN SLAW is a marvelous mood booster --- not to mention just downright delish
April 18, 2014

Rabbi Yonason Goldson: Clarifying one of the greatest philosophical conundrums in theology

Caroline B. Glick: The disappearance of US will

Megan Wallgren: 10 things I've learned from my teenagers

Lizette Borreli: Green Tea Boosts Brain Power, May Help Treat Dementia

John Ericson: Trying hard to be 'positive' but never succeeding? Blame Your Brain

The Kosher Gourmet by Julie Rothman Almondy, flourless torta del re (Italian king's cake), has royal roots, is simple to make, . . . but devour it because it's simply delicious

April 14, 2014

Rabbi Dr Naftali Brawer: Passover frees us from the tyranny of time

Greg Crosby: Passing Over Religion

Eric Schulzke: First degree: How America really recovered from a murder epidemic

Georgia Lee: When love is not enough: Teaching your kids about the realities of adult relationships

Cameron Huddleston: Freebies for Your Lawn and Garden

Gordon Pape: How you can tell if your financial adviser is setting you up for potential ruin

Dana Dovey: Up to 500,000 people die each year from hepatitis C-related liver disease. New Treatment Has Over 90% Success Rate

Justin Caba: Eating Watermelon Can Help Control High Blood Pressure

The Kosher Gourmet by Joshua E. London and Lou Marmon Don't dare pass over these Pesach picks for Manischewitz!

April 11, 2014

Rabbi Hillel Goldberg: Silence is much more than golden

Caroline B. Glick: Forgetting freedom at Passover

Susan Swann: How to value a child for who he is, not just what he does

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Financial Tasks You Should Tackle Right Now

Sandra Block and Lisa Gerstner: How to Profit From Your Passion

Susan Scutti: A Simple Blood Test Might Soon Diagnose Cancer

Chris Weller: Have A Slow Metabolism? Let Science Speed It Up For You

The Kosher Gourmet by Diane Rossen Worthington Whitefish Terrine: A French take on gefilte fish

April 9, 2014

Jonathan Tobin: Why Did Kerry Lie About Israeli Blame?

Samuel G. Freedman: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Jessica Ivins: A resolution 70 years later for a father's unsettling legacy of ashes from Dachau

Kim Giles: Asking for help is not weakness

Kathy Kristof and Barbara Hoch Marcus: 7 Great Growth Israeli Stocks

Matthew Mientka: How Beans, Peas, And Chickpeas Cleanse Bad Cholesterol and Lowers Risk of Heart Disease

Sabrina Bachai: 5 At-Home Treatments For Headaches

The Kosher Gourmet by Daniel Neman Have yourself a matzo ball: The secrets bubby never told you and recipes she could have never imagined

April 8, 2014

Lori Nawyn: At Your Wit's End and Back: Finding Peace

Susan B. Garland and Rachel L. Sheedy: Strategies Married Couples Can Use to Boost Benefits

David Muhlbaum: Smart Tax Deductions Non-Itemizers Can Claim

Jill Weisenberger, M.S., R.D.N., C.D.E : Before You Lose Your Mental Edge

Dana Dovey: Coffee Drinkers Rejoice! Your Cup Of Joe Can Prevent Death From Liver Disease

Chris Weller: Electric 'Thinking Cap' Puts Your Brain Power Into High Gear

The Kosher Gourmet by Marlene Parrish A gift of hazelnuts keeps giving --- for a variety of nutty recipes: Entree, side, soup, dessert

April 4, 2014

Rabbi David Gutterman: The Word for Nothing Means Everything

Charles Krauthammer: Kerry's folly, Chapter 3

Amy Peterson: A life of love: How to build lasting relationships with your children

John Ericson: Older Women: Save Your Heart, Prevent Stroke Don't Drink Diet

John Ericson: Why 50 million Americans will still have spring allergies after taking meds

Cameron Huddleston: Best and Worst Buys of April 2014

Stacy Rapacon: Great Mutual Funds for Young Investors

Sarah Boesveld: Teacher keeps promise to mail thousands of former students letters written by their past selves

The Kosher Gourmet by Sharon Thompson Anyone can make a salad, you say. But can they make a great salad? (SECRETS, TESTED TECHNIQUES + 4 RECIPES, INCLUDING DRESSINGS)

April 2, 2014

Paul Greenberg: Death and joy in the spring

Dan Barry: Should South Carolina Jews be forced to maintain this chimney built by Germans serving the Nazis?

Mayra Bitsko: Save me! An alien took over my child's personality

Frank Clayton: Get happy: 20 scientifically proven happiness activities

Susan Scutti: It's Genetic! Obesity and the 'Carb Breakdown' Gene

Lecia Bushak: Why Hand Sanitizer May Actually Harm Your Health

Stacy Rapacon: Great Funds You Can Own for $500 or Less

Cameron Huddleston: 7 Ways to Save on Home Decor

The Kosher Gourmet by Steve Petusevsky Exploring ingredients as edible-stuffed containers (TWO RECIPES + TIPS & TECHINQUES)

Jewish World Review Feb. 15, 2007 / 27 Shevat 5767

‘The Polish Woman’: Long-lost cousin, or impostor capitalizing on family's grief?

By Desmond Ryan

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http://www.JewishWorldReview.com | (MCT) The literature of the Holocaust understandably focuses on the loss of life on a scale that beggars comprehension. In "The Polish Woman," Eva Mekler takes a less-traveled road and explores the loss of identity.


Today, we tend to think of identity theft as a crime that is an especially exasperating curse of modern life, but in "The Polish Woman," a novel that gains much from its restraint and sparse style, Mekler restores the term to an older meaning. What happens when a stranger shows up in a community or family and claims to be a relative everyone presumed long dead?


The question and the rippling consequences made Princess Anastasia an endlessly beguiling figure in many retellings and enriched Natalie Zemon Davis' "The Return of Martin Guerre." In her variation on the theme, Mekler couches the dilemmas in the most wrenching circumstances when Karolina Staszek drops the bombshell on the Landau family, whose members include survivors of the camps still nursing their nightmare memories and seething rage in New York in 1967.


In a world where lives and livelihoods can be rebuilt more easily than shattered psyches, Mekler's premise is rich in possibilities and ambitious in conception. But there are so many ramifications from this detonation and so many narrative paths to tempt the author, that some of them inevitably receive short shrift.


There is also a pronounced difference in the depth with which Mekler draws her two protagonists -- Karolina and Philip Landau, the skeptical lawyer who has to weigh whether she is his cousin or a world-class and extremely glib fraud.



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Mekler, who was born in Poland and spent her early years in a displaced persons camp after World War II, paints a haunting portrait of Karolina that manages to convey genuine sincerity while sustaining that air of ambiguity central to the narrative. Philip emerges more blandly and predictably as an archetype of the disillusioned Sixties idealist.


Despite the resulting imbalance, "The Polish Woman" offers a strongly evoked contrast between the Jewish survivors in New York and the bleakness of life in Communist Poland in the '60s.


Karolina, a poor art student who comes to New York on a grant, is either the daughter of the late and rich Jake Landau, Philip's uncle, or a clever crook after an inheritance. Or perhaps she is simply a deluded and lost soul seeking connection.


To the stunned Landau clan, Karolina announces that she is the daughter Jake paid a Polish farm family to hide before he was sent to the camps. She has memories that make her assertion at least possible, and the family is divided.


When Karolina and Philip arrive in Poland to find evidence one way or another, Mekler bars their conventional quest with walls of resistance that unsparingly show flagrant and reflexive anti-Semitism on every side two decades after the Holocaust. In the voices of the farmers, merchants and priests, you sense the complicity that made mass murder on an incomprehensible scale possible.


"The Polish Woman" takes us to the final revelation about Karolina and what really happened at a lonely farmhouse two decades before. It is an earned climax that may lack the heartbreaking power of William Styron's "Sophie's Choice," but suits the understated and moving story of a woman whose memories open so many old wounds.

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