Pomegranate Seeds is a fascinating book filled with rich oral narratives of wisdom, experiences, folk imagination, journeys, history, folktales, customs and traditions— and adventures. Each of the 34 stories, spanning 500 years of Jewish presence in Latin America and the Caribbean, is a gem! Nadia Grosser Nagarajan, who collected these tales on her travels through the Latin American continent, retells the stories she heard from people who are living repositories of extraordinary life experiences and folklore. We learn how so many of the Jews came from Eastern Europe and other countries to settle in these 11 Hispanic countries south of the border. We learn of their occupations; their relationships with the people of the country; how one young woman survived the Holocaust and arrived in Chile; how a Jewish shipbuilder and merchant, David Haim Salas, saved the sailors of the American schooner Cohannit in 1877 and, upon refusing payment, received a Tiffany engraved silver bowl from President Ruthorford Hayes which remains a family treasure; about the Jews of the Amazon in Peru; a Jewish fairy tale; a bedtime story; and so much more. This splendid collection will never stand on a shelf after a first reading — but rather will become a favorite travel companion.
At the end of each story there are Source Notes and Text Notes. What contributes to a deeper understanding of these stories and an appreciation of the author’s extensive research is a close reading of the annotated Text Notes regarding historical backgrounds, explanations of Hispanic and Jewish words and concepts, identification of persons (such as Baron Maurice de Hirsch), and expanded references, such as the lyrics of a Jewish song in broken Argentinean Spanish.
In the interest of full disclosure, the author thanks me in her Acknowledgments.