Hands of Gold: One Man’s Quest to Find the Sil­ver Lin­ing in Misfortune

September 1, 2021

Hands of Gold is a heart­warm­ing sto­ry about Sam Fox that began with cas­sette tapes he left his fam­i­ly. Sam came from nothing.

A poor Jew­ish farm hand From Hun­gary, he spent most of his adult life run­ning from the mil­i­tary, chang­ing iden­ti­ties, skip­ping bor­ders, har­bor­ing secrets, and fight­ing a dev­as­tat­ing ill­ness. Along the way he acci­den­tal­ly killed a man in a trol­ley acci­dent, but saved count­less lives in a work­place shoot­ing and as a test case for a life­sav­ing TB treat­ment, becom­ing an Amer­i­can hero.

The nov­el, based on an inspir­ing true sto­ry, was an Ama­zon Break­through Nov­el Award quar­ter­fi­nal­ist in his­tor­i­cal fic­tion. It offers an old-world take on sev­er­al top­ics in the news today: A some­times-fatal res­pi­ra­to­ry ill­ness, life as a Jew­ish immi­grant, and a mass shooting.

Hands of Gold begins and ends in a nurs­ing home with a remark­able secret, a past worth chron­i­cling and a cher­ished fam­i­ly trea­sure buried dur­ing the Holo­caust and uncov­ered, even­tu­al­ly find­ing its way back into Sam’s hands.

Discussion Questions

Cour­tesy of Roni Robbins

<p>1. <em>Hands of Gold</em> exam­ines the impact of immi­gra­tion, iden­ti­ty, prej­u­dice, anti­semitism, Yid­dish and the Holo­caust on Jew­ish fam­i­lies in the 20th cen­tu­ry Amer­i­ca. Why do you think these issues still attract so much inter­est today? Which ones are most impor­tant to you?

<p>2. What are the mul­ti­ple mean­ings of the title,<em> Hands of Gold</em>, and how are they metaphors for life?

<p>3. What secrets are revealed in the nov­el? Which are the most dam­ag­ing and why?

<p>4. There are many dif­fer­ent char­ac­ters depict­ed in the nov­el. With whom do you most relate? Who reminds you of some­one in your own fam­i­ly? Explain your answers.

<p>5. Which of Sam’s adven­tures or dra­mat­ic expe­ri­ences res­onate with you the most? Why?

<p>6. Do you think it’s impor­tant to leave your life sto­ry for your chil­dren and grand­chil­dren in some form? Why don’t more peo­ple take the time to do this or have their chil­dren or grand­chil­dren record this his­to­ry? For exam­ple, did you know some baby jour­nals for new par­ents have spots to record fam­i­ly geneal­o­gy and history?

<p>7. Com­pare and con­trast immi­gra­tion from 20th cen­tu­ry Amer­i­ca to immi­gra­tion today. How were immi­grants treat­ed dif­fer­ent­ly than now?

<p>8. Should par­ents from a dif­fer­ent coun­try con­tin­ue to speak their native lan­guage and pre­serve their for­mer country’s cul­ture at home so it’s passed down to the next gen­er­a­tion? Or is total inte­gra­tion into the new coun­try prefer­able? Explain your answers.

<p>9. Should Sam have swapped the gold watch for an oppor­tu­ni­ty to go to Amer­i­ca? Should he have aban­doned his fam­i­ly in Europe? Should he have tried hard­er to get them to come with him?

<p>10. What do you think it was like for fam­i­lies in Amer­i­ca hear­ing about rel­a­tives who died in the Holocaust?

<p>11. What role does guilt play in the nov­el and in Jew­ish life in gen­er­al, even today?

<p>12. Do you agree with Sam’s deci­sion not to tell his wife and fam­i­ly about the trol­ley acci­dent? What do you think their reac­tion would be if they found out? Should Sam have done more for the fam­i­ly of the victim?

<p>13. Should Sam and Han­nah have kept their secret from their chil­dren? What do you think their reac­tion would be?

<p>14. Did Sam’s per­son­al­i­ty or view on life change from the begin­ning of the nov­el to the end? Did your per­cep­tion of him change? Explain your answers.