Non­fic­tion

Womb Of Dia­monds: A True Adven­ture From Child Bride Of Syr­ia To Celebri­ty Busi­ness­woman Of Japan

September 1, 2021

Womb Of Dia­monds: A True Adven­ture From Child Bride Of Syr­ia To Celebri­ty Busi­ness­woman Of Japan cov­ers unique Jew­ish sub­jects.

Most excit­ing, is the sto­ry of Lucie rais­ing her fam­i­ly in a Nazi allied coun­try dur­ing World War Two. This includes the 1941 arrival of Euro­pean refugees with Sug­i­hara visas – some of whom tem­porar­i­ly resided in her house. It goes on to relate the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties’ and Japan­ese strug­gles dur­ing this tumul­tuous peri­od. At the con­clu­sion of World War Two, it details the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties’ and Lucie’s inter­ac­tions with the occu­py­ing Amer­i­can sol­diers, and the sub­se­quent found­ing of the syn­a­gogue which is still active today. The mem­oir also details some of the last good years of the Jew­ish Com­mu­ni­ty of Alep­po through Lucie’s com­ing of age account. Before she is tricked into an engage­ment with a much old­er man, Lucie relates the mag­i­cal prop­er­ties of the souk, where their pis­ta­chios were dried, and how chick­peas were used instead of wed­ding invi­ta­tions. This is a very unique mem­oir about a Syr­i­an Jew­ish girl’s life in Japan.

Discussion Questions

Cour­tesy of Ezra Choueke

  1. Despite the dif­fi­cult rela­tion­ship between Lucie and her moth­er-in-law, they were able to do great things for their fam­i­ly. How did their dif­fi­cul­ties in work­ing side by side make Lucie a better/​more inde­pen­dent busi­ness­woman and at the same time pro­vide for a good home life?
  2. After World War Two, how did Lucie use her Syr­i­an, deal-mak­ing men­tal­i­ty to pro­vide food and med­i­cine to the local pop­u­la­tion? In your opin­ion, did this raise any moral ques­tions? How did her out­ward appear­ance as a white female in Japan help in this situation?
  3. In 1930’s Syr­ia there were many arranged mar­riages between old­er men and younger women, espe­cial­ly due to finan­cial cir­cum­stances. In this book, we take a look at some of the many dif­fi­cul­ties of these sit­u­a­tions. Are there any ben­e­fits in com­par­i­son to how peo­ple meet each oth­er today with regards to the con­ti­nu­ity of Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ties and fam­i­ly finan­cial strength?
  4. Lucie had an uncon­ven­tion­al rela­tion­ship with her hus­band, par­tic­u­lar­ly com­pared to present val­ues. How did Ezra show his love and respect for her? 
  5. Did Lucie’s famil­iar­i­ty with the fam­i­ly busi­ness help Ezra in his old age? In the lat­er years of their lives, how did the big age gap between Ezra and Lucie help pro­vide for their family?
  6. Dur­ing World War Two, how did the Japan­ese peo­ple and gov­ern­ment treat Jews in Kobe? Did this con­trast with their polit­i­cal alliance with Germany? 
  7. With regards to Kosher food, how did the Jew­ish com­mu­ni­ty of Kobe ben­e­fit from the influx of refugees from Europe in 1941
  8. What was the mis­un­der­stand­ing that almost result­ed in Lucie’s death at the end of World War Two in the vil­lage of Bunka­mu­ra? Can you see the point of view of both sides? 
  9. How did Lucie ben­e­fit from the Amer­i­can sol­diers appear­ing in the vil­lage at the con­clu­sion of World War 2? Did she make sure her Japan­ese neigh­bors ben­e­fit­ted as well? In the fol­low­ing months, did Lucie iden­ti­fy more with the Japan­ese police, Amer­i­can sol­diers, or want to stay out of the con­flict entirely?
  10. Did Lucie’s abor­tion anger you? Was she jus­ti­fied due to the issues with lack of food, war, and the prob­lems with­in her fam­i­ly? How would her future have been affect­ed if Dr. Sakamo­to had agreed to her sec­ond request?
  11. One of Lucie’s great per­son­al assets, in my opin­ion, was her almost com­plete indif­fer­ence to rejec­tion in busi­ness and her ulti­mate con­fi­dence in her­self. She kept try­ing until she suc­ceed­ed. Why is this instru­men­tal to evolve in busi­ness over decades and when seek­ing new mar­kets for goods? 
  12. I, Lucie’s grand­son, wrote the book togeth­er with her and we col­lab­o­rat­ed on all but the final draft. I did­n’t imag­ine myself in Lucie’s shoes and cre­ate a nar­ra­tive, I lis­tened to what she said and wrote down the sto­ries as she told them. Would this book have been bet­ter and more insight­ful had a grand­daugh­ter col­lab­o­rat­ed with her instead of a grand­son? Why or why not? 
  13. Fari­da, Lucie’s moth­er-in-law, was the third wife of a man who passed away after the birth of their first son. How do you believe this affect­ed her out­look on life? What if Fari­da’s first child had been a daugh­ter instead of a son? How would her life in Syr­ia have been dif­fer­ent? Do you believe these events and her cul­ture were reflect­ed in her personality?