The Night of the Burning: Devorah's Story

by Linda Press Wulf

Linda Press Wulf brings to light a little-known story about the rescue of two hundred... read more

Linda Press Wulf brings to light a little-known story about the rescue of two hundred Polish Jewish children orphaned in the aftermath of World War I. Some had lost their families from sickness, some to the violence of pogroms that saw the Russian army and local villagers turning against their Jewish neighbors. Eleven-year-old Devorah and her little sister, Nechama, have already lost both of their parents to illness when their aunt is murdered by the violence in their own village. Smuggled out by a kindly neighbor, they end up in an orphanage in Pinsk. It is there they first meet Isaac Ochberg. With the support of the Jewish community of Cape Town, South Africa, he has been sent to choose two hundred children to emigrate to that country. Devorah and Nechama are among the chosen. Told from Devorah’s point of view, Wulf makes use of flashback to relate the story of the sisters’ lives in Poland in an absorbing narrative that chronicles the girls’ journey to Cape Town, and the lives they make for themselves there. For Nechama, who remembers little of Poland, the adjustment is far easier than for Devorah, who is torn between looking forward and looking back. Love for the family she lost makes it hard for her to open her heart to the Jewish couple who adopts her until she understands that no one is asking her to forget her past. Wulf provides a historical note about the real Isaac Ochberg in a novel based on the life of her aunt. (Ages 10–14)

© Cooperative Children's Book Center, Univ. of Wisconsin - Madison, 2007

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