LEAH'S CHILDREN by Gloria Goldreich


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Even more pious, noble, and dull than Leah's Journey (1978): another monotonically effusive tribute to the heroically over-achieving Goldfeder family. Leah G., now the matriarchal toast of a Manhattan settlement-house community, is given a Woman of Achievement Award for various good works in 1974. Then, in flashbacks, the focus shifts to her children: judge Aaron; Rebecca, married to Yehuda, mother and stepmother of four in an Israeli kibbutz; and professor Michael. In 1956 Aaron is in Budapest, lonely and widowed, on an assignment for secret agent Yehuda: Aaron is to bring a Dr. Groszman, expert in radar technology, out of Hungary. But the Dr. turns out to be beautiful Lydia, a widow who lives with teenage stepson Paul and insists on continuing her dangerous political work for Hungary's freedom. And so Lydia's rescue--complete with narrow escapes and an Andropov cameo--won't come till after Paul's death in the Uprising. (Aaron and Lydia will marry, of course.) Next Leah's son Michael takes center-stage, in 1960s Mississippi--where he spends summers teaching in a black school and falls in love with black Kemala Jackson. Could there be marriage? Leah thinks not: ""Intermarriage means assimilation and that means Jewish disappearance."" Then there's a section in 1966 Israel, where artist Rebecca ponders the recent chill in her marriage, while Yehuda, grieving over the death of his son, restlessly travels on more missions: Rebecca visits the US, has an affair with an art critic who proposes marriage. (Can she, would she, leave Yehuda?) And finally the spotlight returns to Leah, whose life is recapped throughout and garlanded with uplift statements about wresting hope from despair: in 1978 Israel, Leah is felled by flame after she rescues a grandchild. Billboard heroics, with dialogue and characters to match; only for the least demanding, least sophisticated segment of the Jewish-family-saga readership.

Pub Date: May 23rd, 1985
Publisher: Macmillan