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June 23, 1978 - Image 56

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1978-06-23

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56 Friday, Joe 23, 1978


liaquela': The Story of a Woman and a Nation

"Raquela" is the title of a
book. It is the story of an
heroic Israeli woman. It was
written by one of the ablest
foreign correspondents who
covered the story of Israel
since the state's inception.
It is a name to be remem-
bered by those desiring to
know all of the historic
events relating to Israel.
"Raquela" may well be
judged the story of two wo-
men: the heroine and the
book's author. If ever a vol-
ume earned best-seller list-
ing this is it.
Ruth Gruber authored
this volume which came off
the press of Coward,
McCann and Geoghegan
this week. To understand
the value of this unusual
story it is well to reconstruct
the story of Ruth Gruber,
who is well known to many
. audiences in this country
and abroad and to her many
admirers in the Greater De-
troit area.
Miss Gruber gives con-
siderable credit to her hus-
band, Henry J. Rosner, for
the encouragement she re-
ceived in compiling her
story. She has to her credit a
number of important books,
many on Israel. She has
been on Israeli tours 29
times. The youngest person
to earn the PhD degree ; at
the age of 20, she was the
first foreign correspondent
to report from the Soviet
Arctic. She was President
Franklin D. Roosevelt's
personal representative to
accompany 1,000 refugees
from Italy to their haven in
.the U.S.
In 1947, she was the
only foreign correspon-
dent who was permitted
to enter the British prison
camps in Cyprus and
thus was virtually in the
front ranks of those who

witnessed the important
events marking Jewish_
struggles for indepen-
dence in the Israel that
was soon to be born into
The fact that she was the
only correspondent who was
permitted to cover events
that marked the voyage of
the Hagana ship Exodus
gave her added status in the
foreign news field.
As correspondent in Is-
rael for the New York
Herald Tribune she gained
first knowledge of the
events marking the saga of
"Five minutes after I
met Raquela Prywes, in
the King David Hotel in
Jerusalem, I knew my
search was over.
"This, then is her story.
"For nine months my
husband, Henry J. Rosner,
and I lived in Jerusalem,
first in the incomparable
beauty of Mishkenot
Sha'ananim, a writers' re-
treat facing the Old City,
and then in all the places
where Raquela had lived
and worked; I wanted to
capture a sense of place and
time and history in the life
story of a hitherto unknown
but fascinating woman.
"In the course of writing
this book, L found that
Raquela moved through so
many levels of Israel's his-
tory, and her own life
touched so many people,
that to get the true measure
of who she was and what she
did, it was necessary to
spend long hours interview-
ing not only her but also
scores of others."
This is sort of a synopsis of
a story so impressively mov-
ing that the author's per-
sonal aspects are as valu-
able for the reader's know-
ledge as the story itself.

Raquela Prywes and Ruth Gruber
who would relate to the
About Raquela, be-
founding of Israel:
cause this is a true story
and depicts so movingly
"A few years ago I flew
to Israel on a quest: to
Israel's struggles, aspira-
tions, courage of state
find a woman — not
builders and defenders:
Golda Meir, not a power-
Raquela Prywes' family
ful world-renowned fi-
gure, but one whose life
lived in Jerusalem for 300
years. Her story begins in
would define what it
1929, the year of Arab riot-
means to be a woman of
ing. The peace she had
known ended. She was
"Having covered the story
five-years-old then. From
of Israel since its birth, as
then on her life is part of her
foreign correspondent for
people's experiences, of the New York Herald
struggles for life and survi- Tribune, I knew that every
woman in Israel had a story;
These are the memorable and when I began my
facts about Ruth Gruber search, I discovered that
that explain her search for everyone with whom I
talked, famous or obscure,
the roots of the state of Is-
rael and the form it took in had_a candidate.
"Raquela." She conceived a
"For countless hours,
brilliant idea. She was in driving hundreds of miles
search of a woman who up and down the country, I
would portray the dramatic tracked down most of the
story of Israel. Because of candidates. I wanted a
the dramatic genesis of the woman who had taken part
"Raquela" story it is well to in the so-called 'illegal im-
let Ruth Gruber tell her ap- migration' of Jewish sur-
proach in her own way. This vivors after World War II,
is how she describes her fighting to enter Palestine;
search for the personality a woman who had been on

the front lines in the four
wars; a woman who had
known in her own life the
joy and agony of growing up
in the biblical land, of being
an Israeli.
"In the end, it was Dr.
Kalman J. Mann, the direc-
tor general of the
Hadassah-Hebrew Univer-
sity Medical Center, who
said, 'I think I have a candi-
date for you. She's a ninth-
generation Jerusalemite. A
nurse and midwife. She de-
livered most of the babies
born to the illegal immig-
rants in the British camps
in Athlit and Cyprus. She
worked in the Hadassah
Hospital during our wars.
And was so beautiful that
every man in Jerusalem
wanted to marry her.'

Raquela chose to be a
nurse-midwife. Her studies
for that career were con-
cluded at the time of the UN
decision for the partition of
Palestine. Her first assign-
ment was in the Athlit
camp for displaced persons
set up by the British. That's
where Raquela learned
about the horrors of the
Holocaust and the suffer-
ings of the survivors who
risked the trip to Palestine.
She also served in the
Cyprus camp. There she
was in close contact with the
"illegal" refugees who ar-
rived on ships that strove to
resist British obstructions
to incoming Jewish settlers.
The war ended,
Raquela returned to
Jerusalem and she mar-
ried the man of her love,
Arik Brzezinski. - They
were the founders of the
frontier's first medical
From this point on Raque-
la's story is that of Israel.
With her husband — they

had two sons — Raquela
gained wide recognition in
the medical sphere, during
the Sinai campaign of 1956
and until Arik's passing
shortly thereafter.
She was a heroine again
during the war of 1967
when Raquela organized
five satellite hospitals. She
was the dedicated nurse,
aiding the casualties of the

All of her efforts were
marked by the courage that
was hers and Israel's, and
throughout this dramatic
narrative her life is linked
with Israel's and the story
itself is as much Israel as
Raquela: Like her nation,
she confronts difficulties
and heroically pursues the
task of providing help and
comfort for her compatriots.

The inseparability of
Raquela from Israel is

evidenced when the
state's president, Presi-
dent Ephraim Katzir,
Golda Meir and others
came to comfort Raquela
on the loss of her son
Rail, killed in the line of
duty in 1976. The tribute
is great, the determina-
tion to carry on is empha-
tic. There is mourning
but the concluding words
are symbolic: "We go on
living," Raquela's second
husband Moshe Prywes
declares. That's the story
of a nation and its na-
tionals and of a great
woman so eloquently de-

It is Ruth Gruber's best
story. It is the truth about
Israel and her most eminent
people as they are portrayed
in the image of a great wo-
man. What a remarkable

Profiles of Great Jewish Women: Their Eminence in History

Two volumes just issued
by Bloch Publishing Co.
richly enhance the availa-
ble literature about Jewish
women in history.
Both works deal with per-
sonalities dating back from
earliest times to the pre-
sent. Some had gained fame
among non-Jews; most of
the characterized rate high
in the history of the Jewish
Dr. Greta Fink offers a
fascinating collection of
biographical studies in
"Great Jewish Women: Pro-
files of Courageous Women
from the Maccabean Period
to the Present"

Beruria, who was the
wife of Rabbi Meir and
was an authority on the

Talmud; her father,
Rabbi Hananiah ben
Teradion, who was one of
the Ten Martyrs in the
Second Century of this
era; Dina Grazia, the
eminent heroine who was
a descendant of Por-
tuguese - Marranos;
Glueckel of Hameln, the
famous lady of Hamburg
who, in the 17th-18th
Century wrote her
memoirs which revealed
the courage of woman-
hood; Rahel Varnhagen,
who had befriended the -
The cast of characters noted personalities of the
in this book includes early 19th Century, and
Queen Alexandra of the who influenced many in
Hasmonean hierarchy the German of the Ger-
who ruled for nine years man intellectuals; Re-
in the First Century BCE; becca Gratz, the great

Philadelphia lady who is
considered the pioneer in
establishing Sunday
schools and whose name
is perpetuated in Gratz
College in Philadelphia.

Also in Dr. Fink's list of
notables areErnestine Rose,
feminist; the Maid of
Ludomir, who mastered the
Midrash; Sarah Bernhardt,
the famous actress; Hannah
Solomon, the social worker,
Henrietta Szold, founder of
Hadassah; Lillian Wald,
noted social worker, Emma
Goldman, the anarchist;
Helena Rubinstein, famed
cosmetician; Sarah Sche-
nirer who led in advancing
religious education among
women; Gertrude Stein, au-
thor, Nessie Sachs, Nobel
Prize winner; Anna Pauker,
Romanian Communist;
Louise Nevelson, foremost

Century Venetian poet-
sculptress; Dorothy Schiff,
ess, singer and liar- psi- -
publisher; Rosalind
chord and lute per-
Franklin, scientist and re-
searcher in biology; Golda former; Benida Ab-
Meir, stateswoman. ravanel, 16th Century
It will be noted that the Palestinian who used her
women listed are all Jewish wealth to ransom Jewish
and that their fields of activ- prisoners and expellees
ity were not all Jewish. from Spain.
Therefore, the book itself
Then there is a group of
women of influence, includ-
has a universal appeal.
Equally impressive is a ing Dona Gracia Nasi, a
second Bloch volume, Marrano who conducted an
'Written Out of History," underground railroad to re-
to-authored by Sandra scue persecutees from Por-
Henry and Emily Taitz. It is tugal after she settled in
.hrough their writings and Italy; Anna the Hebrew, a
letters that they portray the cosmetics dealer of Italy
rollowing women: who sought to prevent ex-
Mibtahish, a brilliant pulsion of Jews; Esther Ki-
woman who dealt in and era, who befriended the

devoted herself to female Turkish Sultan's wife, 16th
rights in the Fifth Cen- Century, helped Jewish
tury; Sambathe, a First merchants who suffered at
Century BCE prophetess; the hands of plunderers and
Ima Shalom, a First Cen- assisted in publishing
tury intellect; Beruria, Jewish books; Esperanza
of the Seventh Century; Malkhi, chiefladies' maid to
Kasmunah, poetess of the Turkish Sultan's
the Eighth Century; harem, 16th Century.
Rebecca Tiktiaer, 16th Glueckel of Hameln; Sara
zin Bat Tovim the author, 18th
Century author; Rebit
Mizrachi who headed a Century, Ukraine; Frau
Kurdish yeshiva, in the Frumet Wold, 18th Century
16th Century; Devora As- Hungarian pamphleteer;
carelli, a translator and Judith Montefiore, the wife
poetess,. 17th Century; of the great Jewish philan-
SEMI Coppice, St44nly 3. 1 741 Pkr°P 40C1, M.°.rPF8°;

Hebrew poetess, Austrian,
19th Century; Rebecca
Gratz; Penina Moise, 18th
Century Charleston, S.C.,
author, Grace Aguilar, who
gained fame as a novelist
and essayist in her early
youth, 19th Century, Eng-
land; Emma Lazarus, the
famed author of the inscrip-
tion on the Statue of Lib-
erty, and Penina Sahara=
Davis, 1877-1925, noted
American poet and trans-
Women in Jewish
Of added interest in the
field in the distaff ranks is
"Jewish Women in Jewish
Law" by Moehe Meiselman
Many questions relating
to the attitude of Jewish law
to women and the challenge
of feminism is thoroughly
The woman's role in the
synagogue and her rights to
participation in obser-
vances are touched upon.
The informative nature of
this volume gives it special
significance in view of the
current extent of the
feminist movement.

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