Eli’s Story: A Twentieth-Century Jewish Life is first and foremost a biography. Its subject is Eli G. Rochelson, MD (1907−1984), author Meri-Jane Rochelson’s father. The book tells the story of a man whose life and memory spanned two world wars, several migrations, an educational odyssey, the massive upheaval of the Holocaust, and finally, a frustrating yet ultimately successful effort to restore his professional credentials and identity, as well as reestablish family life.
It begins with Eli’s earliest memories of childhood in Kovno and ends with his death, his legacy, and the author’s own unanswered questions that are as much a part of Eli’s story as his own words. The narrative is illuminated and expanded through Eli’s personal archive of papers, letters, and photographs, as well as research in institutional archives, libraries, and personal interviews. In the epilogue, the author reminds readers that the stories of lives don’t have clear chronologies. They go off in many directions, and in some ways they never end.