6 2024

Author Talk: "Jews In The Garden" with Judy Rakowsky

6:30PM - 8:00PM  

Noah Webster Library
The event will take place in the library's meeting room. Please register for the event online. 20 South Main Street
West Hartford, CT 06107
(860) 561-6990

Contact Addison Antonoff

In a beautifully written and affecting personal memoir, award-winning journalist Judy Rakowsky joins forces with her Holocaust survivor cousin on countless trips to his Polish hometown to uncover the grim fates of their missing family members.

Zagorzyce, Poland 1944. A young girl seals herself away, fearful of the thunderous footsteps approaching her hiding place. Her fear is founded—she has been in hiding from Nazi soldiers with her family for the past 18 months, surviving on the goodwill of their neighbors and family friends. As the angry footsteps approach, men shout “Give up your Jews! We know you are hiding them!”

To the girl’s shock, the voices spoke in her native Polish—not German.

Nearly 60 years later, Rakowsky’s elderly cousin, Sam Ron, shares their family’s Holocaust history with her for the first time. Ron shares not only his own experiences surviving multiple concentration camps but also the story of a beloved cousin, Hena, whom he saw each day growing up.

After Ron was liberated from the camps, he expected a joyful reunification with Hena and her family, who were being kept hidden in a neighbor’s farmhouse, yet the family was nowhere to be found. Family friends were tight-lipped, unwilling to share what became of the family. Little did Ron and Rakowsky know that this conspiracy of silence would hinder their search for Hena for years.

In 2018, Poland passed a law that highly restricted public speech condemning Polish citizens’ involvement with Nazicrimes during the Holocaust.

Rakowsky’s Jews in the Garden is a deep dive into a gaslighting of history and Holocaust revision done by the Polish government and average, everyday citizens. This conspiracy of silence may have hindered thousands of families, such as Rakowsky’s, from ever finding closure and continues to do so to this day.

Judy Rakowsky is a career journalist who grew up in Ohio knowing little about her family’s Holocaust story. As a young reporter, she got to know Cousin Sam, a survivor of the Krakow ghetto and Nazi concentration camps who married in Israel after the war and then raised a family in Ohio.

She spent decades on deadline, covering crime and legal affairs for newspapers, including The Boston Globe
and The Providence Journal. She covered major trials and produced countless page-one stories. But one story riveted her: the fate of relatives in Poland. She traveled again and again to Poland with Sam, seeing how he came to terms with his own experiences and the challenges and fruits of the search. Describing those discoveries—the true history of what happened to these relatives—was outlawed in 2018 by the Polish government.

Coverage of Jews in the Garden can be found in The New York Times, USA Today, Boston Globe Magazine, The Providence Journal, and more. Rakowsky is available for an interview and can be seen at one of her book talks across the East Coast this year. Visit her website to learn more: https://www.judyrakowsky.com