Art of a Jewish Woman: The True Story of How a Penniless Holocaust Escapee Became an Influential Modern Art Connoisseur (formerly titled Felice's Worlds)

By Henry Massie

First she escaped the Holocaust and the poverty of the shtetl. After that, she moved in lots of worlds. And in each she made her mark.

"Henry Massie by no means blinks as he creates an impressive chronicle of a existence in diaspora. just a son may possibly trap this passionate spirit, who escaped either Adolf Hitler and Joe McCarthy." -Patty Friedmann, writer of Too Jewish

Art of a Jewish Woman is a memoir and biography of Massie's mom, a super and lovely girl who escaped the Holocaust and took part in lots of of the main serious classes of the twentieth Century. One half historic biography, weaving global struggle II period ecu cultural relationships with the historical past of recent artwork, and one half inspirational romance, it paints a vibrant portrait of Felice as an indomitable spirit, her boldness and resilience a beacon of wish.

"The such a lot transparent divulge at the Holocaust and eu background that i have learn open air of textual content books ... A mesmerizing, infrequent and unforgettable read." -A Bookish Libraria

"A biography that chronicles an grand lifestyles ... Vivid instead of stuffy." -A Universe in Words

From the author:

I had listened to my mother’s stories all my existence and desired to percentage them. She used to be an escapee from a Polish shtetl burnt up via the Nazis, a high-school political activist in Lithuania, a school pupil in France who misplaced her past love tragically, a partisan for Arab-Jewish co-existence in Palestine who used to be stuck within the first intifada in 1936, and a penniless arrival to the USA in 1937.

Yet whilst she died she had gathered some of the most very important collections of recent paintings on this planet and was once a college lecturer at the subject.

When she used to be lecturing on sleek paintings at Washington collage in St. Louis, Missouri, younger women flocked to her. She urged them on their love-life and mentored them of their schooling. She by no means noted the Feminist circulate, notwithstanding one in all her students acknowledged top of feminism within the Seventies, "She used to be the necessary glossy lady. That brief hair [like Audrey Hepburn's], these outfits [colorful folkloric in the course of the day, black skirt to the knee with a black most sensible within the evening], that beautiful petite physique with the massive brown eyes. She was once alive, forceful, self sufficient and challenging."

In writing approximately her, I understood for the 1st time how her adventure of wasting household to the Nazis have been handed directly to her American son.

But as a psychiatrist, i used to be attracted to Felice’s tale since it indicates loads resilience within the face of negative emotional trauma. Her existence dramatizes how simply retaining on via days of getting not anything yet a trust that "someday i'll have something," could be a robust survival software.


Inside the stone development, a British officer tested passenger's trip records. whilst Felice's flip got here, the crisply uniformed colonel checked out her naked shoulders and her brief beige and cream linen gown. a wedding certificates issued the day sooner than by means of a rabbi in Beirut stated they have been husband and spouse. the guy regarded malnourished. He had a pink beard and lengthy ear-locks, and big spectacles lined his face. His black go well with was once all dusty, and his head used to be lined with a wide Hassidic black fedora. The couple didn't converse to one another. The colonel was once below orders to do his half on the border to forestall the circulate of unlawful immigrants into Palestine. He requested Felice first in English, which she did not understand, then in French, "Are the 2 of you married?"

"Yes, of course," she responded him.

"What language do you have got in common?" he persevered, probing the ruse.

But Felice and her newly certificated husband had no language in universal. He spoke Arabic and Hebrew, and she or he Polish, French, German, Yiddish, and a few Russian. "The Language of love," she stated in excellent melodious French, now not lacking a beat, flirting with the colonel.

He stamped her access visa.

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She could look at the Jewish outlets and spot a nail on the market right here, a nail there, a bit of nutrition right here, a section of foodstuff there, and she or he could imagine, how do they promote it? The Poles had placed symptoms over the doorways that stated, front for canines. “How do they continue to exist that? How do they devour? How do they stay like that? The questions tormented me,” she later acknowledged. From the twenty-odd cash that remained of Eliyahu’s present and her final paycheck she gave $10 to her family members and stored $10 for the voyage to the US. The price ticket that her uncle in New Haven had despatched should be used at the MS Pilsudsky departing in weeks from Gydynia, Poland’s new port at the Baltic. in the course of these final days at domestic she retraced conventional paths that shaped the borders among city and fields. She walked alongside the trojan horse River (pronounced Boog) and walked to the granary that have been confiscated from her father below the anti-Semitic racial legislation. on the grain mill she watched the plodding horses stroll the grindstone round and round in a circle. She escaped the afternoon warmth less than a tree within the sq. or within the room in the home that remained for her kinfolk. As regularly she escaped into books—popular novels and philosophy. She had by no means had greater than 3 or 4 shut associates within the village simply because rather a lot of her existence have been spent at boarding tuition, and all other than one had left for Warsaw, Palestine, Mexico, and New Zealand. Her ultimate pal, Abraham Nissenovicz, her former arithmetic teach, was once on the brink of depart for the USA at the similar boat as she. Her father seemed her directly within the eyes and acknowledged, “Did you ever think such distress in our relatives? ” She had no resolution, yet she had loads of tears. Her father didn’t cry. Her mom cried and Miriam cried. whereas she was once there, Miriam made a gesture as though to kill herself. On a crisp evening she went to the skin bathroom and sat there with no wrap. She acknowledged she was once going to attend till she iced up to demise. yet Felice needed to visit the lavatory later and located Miriam chilled and stiffly bent as though freezing. She requested Felice to permit her to die. She was once so indignant and green with envy that there has been no likelihood for her, no schooling, simply poverty. Felice introduced Miriam again to the slender mattress they have been sharing and saved her in an embody till she warmed up. in the course of her little while there her relatives desired to contact her, to determine that she used to be actual of their time of distress. She felt that she was once being despatched on a project to avoid wasting her relations. Her mom used to be additionally very unpleasant. She reminded Felice that she had acknowledged she might get married while she had complete her schooling since it had fee a lot, and now her mom known as her a liar simply because she had became down marriage deals. She felt like slapping her mom. there has been whatever lacking of their courting. Her father spent loads of time conversing concerning the political scenario and many time pacing backward and forward. He saved announcing that perhaps the colonels who had taken keep an eye on after Pilsudsky’s demise in 1935 would leave. perhaps the racial legislation will be lifted.

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