Bashert A Granddaughter's Holocaust Quest
January 1, 2003
Andrea Simon

Andrea Simon knew the horrifying stories her grandmother Masha told her of life under Nazi rule in her village of Volchin in what is now Belarus. Several years of family history were encapsulated in a handful of heroic and devastating remembrances of the atrocities that occurred in that little village. Haunted by these vivid images Andrea embarks on a pilgrimage to explore her roots.
Her investigation begins with an escorted tour to the area. She meets people who remember her family and confirm much of what Masha told her. The intensity of the experience takes on enormous proportions and Andrea's detailed investigation gets underway.
Hard work and determination are in themselves not enough to get the job done. Much of what she learns comes to her in ways that can only be described as bashert or fate. The connections come as if an invisible hand was guiding her efforts making Bashert the best possible title.
Bashert is an emotional rollercoaster ride. I laughed heartily at some of the family anecdotes, and I cried bitterly at the description of the horrific executions of innocent men, women and children whose only crime was being Jewish. I kvelled with Andrea when I learned of her family's bravery and courage in the face of such horror and I mourned the senseless loss of so many loved ones.
Bashert is essential reading for anyone who has an interest in what might be referred to as the smaller picture of the Holocaust. We are allowed to share the experiences of loving families whose lives are torn asunder overnight. While we are all aware of the horrifying misery that confronted Jews and other minorities in the concentration camps and have heard of the vast courage of the resistance fighters in the Warsaw ghetto, much of what occurred in the smaller and often unknown villages inside Czarist Russia remains unreported. Bashert opens our eyes to the personal story of a strong and determined young woman, who lost her home and family, escaped the murderous Nazis, and found a new life in America.
Masha will take a place in your heart as she did in her granddaughter's and mine and create a pocket of warmth and pride that will forever remind you of how the strength of one person can change the destiny of an entire family. I urge you to read Bashert, but please be sure to have a hanky at hand.

  From Issue:4.01
Reviewed by: Michael D. Fein
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