A Hug from Afar

  • From the Publisher
May 3, 2016

From a young age on the Aegean island of Rhodes, Claire Barkey start­ed writ­ing to her Uncle Ralph and Aun­ty Rachel Cape­lu­to in the far­away place known as Seat­tle, WA. This smart and deter­mined young woman, always at the top of her class, used the dying lan­guage of Judeo-Span­ish, or Ladi­no, to report news of the rel­a­tives Ralph left behind on Rhodes and the hap­pen­ings of her Sephardic Jew­ish community.

But what start­ed as friend­ly let­ters quick­ly turned to des­per­ate pleas for help as life for the Jews of Rhodes dete­ri­o­rat­ed under the con­trol of Ital­ian dic­ta­tor Ben­i­to Mus­soli­ni, who allied with Adolph Hitler.

For­got­ten and nev­er thought of again, Clara’s let­ters turned up 60 years after she and her devot­ed cor­re­spon­dents had passed away. Pre­served and trans­lat­ed from Ladi­no into Eng­lish, they paint a vivid and detailed sto­ry of how one fam­i­ly tri­umphed and sur­vived after they became refugees, rid­ing the roller coast­er of suc­cess­es and fail­ures toward legal immi­gra­tion to the Unit­ed States.

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