I am very touched and impressed. I “qvell” for what you are doing, recollecting oral (as well as seeking definitive corroboration of) Jewish history, while relating it via your personal vision/version of your own family past. How wonderful. Mazel tov. My love…. May you keep going and growing (no short jokes herein intended).
Randy – Friday Fictioneers
If one wants to read a story of family, faith, and the human spirit, author Rochelle Wisoff-Fields transports her readers to the late 1800s as if they’ve ridden a time machine and debarked to witness one of the Jewish peoples’ darkest times in Russian history.
With well-rounded characters and exquisite imagery, Havah Cohen’s survival through not just one but two pogroms takes the reader on an emotional ride of loss, despair, love, hope, and the fight for survival in the novel Please Say Kaddish for Me.
Halvah’s journey knots the reader’s heartstrings in empathy from the very first pages when the loss of her family leaves her orphaned and wandering alone. The courage and determination found in such a young girl reminds us how buoyant one can be in the face of hardship and obstacles, how faith carries one through so many tribulations, and how no one is really alone. With the help of strangers, and even a Christian household who harbors Havah, the story delves into compassion, friendship, and the dangers in befriending anyone of the Jewish faith.
This book will keep the reader lost in a time warp that he will perhaps want to exit, but at the same time, stay. The characters are real, the descriptions vivid, the dialogue relevant to the era and often witty, and the historical setting accurate. So many times in the story it makes one wonder if the author had lived another life! This book will give the reader pause.
- Linda Kasten, author and literary agent
I highly recommend it–you won’t be able to put it down By Jackie M.
Please Say Kaddish For Me
Rochelle Wisoff-Fields absolutely captivates the reader from the first few pages of Please Say Kaddish For Me until the last, leaving the reader wanting more! Once beginning to read this book, one becomes so entwined in the stories of persecution of Jews, the historically-accurate graphic details of the setting, and detailed character development that it feels as though you are living and breathing the story alongside Havah and her family. Please Say Kaddish For Me reflects obvious passion for the story development by the author, as well as detailed historical research and the creative unfolding of each individual character and his/her life. I highly recommend it–you won’t be able to put it down!
A good read. Please Say Kaddish For Me
I expected a book that touches the dark history of Jewish prosecution to be sad , yet despite the harsh and realistic portrayal of the past there was hope throughout the book. The characters every day life and their challenges showed the resilience of the human soul.
I would recommend this book.
Worth reading and treasuring, By Virginia Smith
A strong woman (girl in the beginning) character in one of the dark times of Jewish life is the setting for this novel. Havah is left orphaned during one of the pogrom raids on her village, setting the stage for a story that pulled me in with its honest emotion and well-written descriptions. Having had a long-term relationship with a Jewish man whose mother left the Ukraine during the pogroms in the early years of the 20th century, I had particular interest in the details. I appreciate excellent prose with good grammatical structure and will not read a book without those two characteristics. Thank you to an excellent author for respecting the language while drawing me deep into the lives of each character. Her original artwork added a lovely, gentle touch.
What a great read. You can tell it was heavily researched
What a great read. You can tell it was heavily researched. I love historical fiction set in World War One and Two Era. This is an author I had never read before but I’m already looking forward to reading her next release.
- Carey Wickersham, Fox 4 reporter, Kansas City, MO
Poignant and touching story
Poignant story about a young Jewish girl as she struggles to cope after she loses her family in a violent pogrom. Many interesting characters interweave their stories with hers. I enjoyed the author’s view as she wrote a story of fiction based on historical events. I definitely recommend reading this book and look forward to another.
My husband and I love to read aloud while driving on trips
This review is from: Please Say Kaddish For Me (Paperback)
My husband and I love to read aloud while driving on trips. We both were immediately captured by the rich character relationships and how a people traumatized by horrendous events were able to overcome such cruel circumstances together. A compelling story of hope in the midst of darkness. We finished our reading of this book in just two days of travel. We never even turned on the radio, that is how engaged we became in the telling of this story. Thanks Rochelle for a beautifully crafted story!
A riveting, deep novel both disturbing and hopeful
This is the best book I’ve read so far this year (and I’ve read 20 so far). Wisoff-Fields brings a dark and ugly period of world history to life through the experiences of Havah Cohen and a large cast of characters who people Czarist Russia. It is a story of unthinkable slaughter, hardship, loss, love, and perseverance.
The characters come to life under the deft hand of Wisoff-Fields. There are so many people introduced at the start of the book that it took me a while to get everyone straight, but the superb storytelling and character revelation kept me hooked. This is a riveting book.
She captures the subtle humor in the midst of trouble, the longing, and the traps of tradition that move the characters’ actions. I am most definitely reading the sequel, From Silt and Ashes.
Follow your B.L.IS.S.
Ronda Del Boccio
#1 Amazon Best Selling Author and Top Reviewer
An absorbing, moving, informative read.
This is a vivid, moving, fictional account of a part of history too little understood. It moves from the Jewish pogroms of Russia to the arrival of immigrants and refugees in the USA. While both shocking and sad in parts, this is an un-put-downable read with much warmth and humanity. This is a world and a society I knew little about and I am glad to have been given this absorbing insight.
5 Star A must read and addition to your library
Loved Please Say Kaddish For Me. From the first page you will be drawn into Havah’s life. This book is a comfortable read. I could not wait to pick up the book every day and continue with Havah’s story. Great story you never know what will happen from Chapter to Chapter. The second book From Silt And Ashes was just as good of the first.
Fiddler On The Roof acquainted the World with some of the horrors endured by Jews under the Czars. But, although that colorful musical only had a bittersweet, melancholy tone Please Say Kaddish For Me holds nothing back. This is a part of history that has finally been shared. Deeply moving and sometimes painful to read, it is important. Wisoff-Fields has done a splendid job of “educating” us about a time in history that Czarist Russia did not want revealed.
By D. M. Miller
I was engrossed in my reading and suddenly the book was at its end. I literally cried out loud “Oh no!”. I eagerly await the next installment.
Please Say Kaddish for Me: A Novel for Everyone—A 5 Star Review! It deserves nothing but!
I thoroughly enjoyed Please Say Kaddish For Me I cried and smiled in equal measure. I grew attached to the family, particularly admiring the spirit and determination of Havah and got very worried many times when I sensed something bad was about to happen. Rochelle produced a very vivid and believable portrayal of Jewish family life in some of the worst times imaginable. I very much look forward to the sequel From Silt and Ashes.
From the very first page of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields novel Please Say Kaddish for Me, I was swept up in Havah Cohen’s story. I was spellbound, so much so, I didn’t want to put this book down. The book is simultaneously driven by character and events at a quick pace, divided into four parts. The year is 1899 in Czarist Russia, a time marked by Jewish pogroms in which entire families are randomly massacred.
The book begins with a horrible tragedy of Havah Cohen, our main heroine, and the slaughter of her family in the middle of the night. When we meet her, Havah is driven from her home, shocked and grief-stricken, and wanders barefoot, reciting the Hebrew prayer of Kaddish, a prayer for the living for the dead and for the bereft.
Because Havah is a rabbi’s daughter, she is well versed in its study which was uncommon at the time. So, when a father and son, Yussel and Arel Gitterman, find Havah at their doorstep, mumbling Kaddish, they are awestruck and quickly come to her aid. What’s more, Arel, promised to another since the age of 13, is completely captivated by Havah’s presence. When Havah is conscious and recovering, she too becomes aware of her forbidden connection to Arel. At the heart of this story is romantic, passionate love between Havah and Arel, and the barriers that they face.
This story is also about the love of family and of community, and how this love transcends the horrible acts afflicted upon them. There are many characters in Ms. Wisoff-Fields’s story, but I was never overwhelmed, but rather carried along, almost as an eavesdropper, but just as easily a participant, for it is hard not to get wrapped up in the anguish of this community and the depth of their suffering. Her descriptions of the horror of these brutal acts are gruesome, vivid and difficult to read, I believe as they should be.
I am struck by the authenticity and honest portrayal of this dire time in history, and by this family’s resilience, their bravery and the way that they lift one another up. Their Jewish faith holds them together, but their traditions and customs are also challenged in the face of all that is at stake and with the complete upheaval of their lives.
Wisoff-Fields’s storytelling is keen and her writing both crisp and fluid, but underneath it all, the author’s passion is undeniably present. There are no words wasted here. As I read, I felt as though I was standing next to them, hearing them breathe and listening to them speak. It’s not often I feel this way when I read a book. Her characters are well-drawn and, in fact, as the author is also a talented artist, she has actually illustrated many of her characters and provided character studies. You can find them posted on her blog Addicted to Purple and on her publisher’s website Loiacono Literary Agency.
As many of you may know, Rochelle is also the host of a wonderful writing community, Friday Fictioneers. There, I have enjoyed many of her well-crafted stories. It is with great pleasure that I recommend Please Say Kaddish for Me. As I read the last page, I thought to myself, “Everyone should read this book.” Now, more than ever, this story needs to be read and shared, because unfortunately the world is not a more kind and gentle place. I hope that this story also finds a place inside the classroom, with its message of compassion and courage of the human spirit.
Please note this story is the first part of a trilogy. Her sequel From Silt and Ashes is also just recently published and available.
Captivating! I couldn’t put this book down…
Beautifully written! If you enjoy historical novels, this is a book you absolutely must read. Rochelle is a master story teller who has brought the horrific Russian pogroms between 1903-1905 against the Jews to life while also allowing us a glimpse at daily life during the period. Her characters also show the multi-dimensional facets of human nature from love, honor, forgiveness and redemption. Considering the trying times we are currently living in, this book shows us there is truly hope as long as we continue to learn the lessons she has shown us here. I’m looking forward to reading her sequel!
- Jan Allen
If Laura Ingalls Wilder had been a Russian Jew … THIS would have been her story!
By K.D. Bonham
Please Say Kaddish For Me tells the story of a similar girl—except she’s the sole survivor of a mass homicide leveled against her own people in her village. PSK is a stunning, provocative narrative with characters that almost breathe on you as you read. The only drawback to the book is that, once you get to the end … you’ll be hungry for MORE!
| you’ll love “Please Say Kaddish For Me
If you’re a fan of history, romance, and action, you’ll love Please Say Kaddish For Me. Wisoff-Fields writes deftly about a part of history that’s unknown to most people. No sugar-coating here, just things that really happened, often terrible, in the lives of people it’s easy to believe are real. No easy answers or decisions here and you’ll agonize and maybe even cry with and over people you’ll come to care about. If you’re sad to see the story end, don’t be. The already-written sequel will be out soon!
A very good book by a gifted writer.
By Steve Samuels
When I started reading the book, I did not know much about this time in history. I’m glad I read it. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields is an excellent writer. I have read other writings by her. I enjoyed them. She does both an excellent job developing the story and characters. I like her descriptive language. The words, paragraphs, and chapters flow very well. I will continue to read writings by her. I would encourage other to read this book not only for enjoyment but from a historical perspective. A fascinating yet tragic time in history. At the end of the book, I found myself wanting to meet Havah, a survivor.
I felt like I knew the characters intimately and was sorry when
I could not put this book down. The story is based on historical fact which made it even more enthralling. I felt like I knew the characters intimately and was sorry when the book ended. Rochelle is a talented and skilled storyteller and I can’t wait for the next book to come out!
The worst part of the book is when it ended
It seemed as if I actually knew these people and that they were not characters at all. I so appreciated the fact that Wisoff-Fields did not sugar coat things. Instead she told it how it really was. Very well done. The worst part of the book is when it ended. I wanted it to continue!
Amazing story, can’t wait for the 2nd book
Amazing story, can’t wait for the 2nd book!
A Historical Journey – 5-star Review
Brilliantly drawn characters make this novel hard to put down. You are propelled into their lives and taken on a historical journey that you won’t soon forget.
This is a fast-paced read, a disturbing glimpse into the lives of Jewish families in Russia at the turn of the 20th century. Very sad and horrific the violence and tragedies these characters endure. At its heart though, this book is a moving, poignant love story that reminds us of our own precious humanity, no matter what our race, religion or ethnicity. I can’t wait for the sequel. I need to know what happens to these extremely well-drawn characters.
- Lisa Regan, Author of Finding Claire Fletcher, Aberration, & Hold Still
Havah and Fruma Ya’el
Good easy read, did not want it to end.
— Cheryl Bales
By Sarah C P
This novel, set in the Czarist Russia of 1899, was a real eye-opener for me. Before I read it, I knew very little about the appalling treatment of Jews in the Country at that time. Labelled as “Christ Killers”, whole families were brutally murdered or lived in constant terror of thugs storming into theirs homes or workplaces to treat them to violence or finish them off.
Against this backcloth, the author paints a most vivid and detailed picture of daily Jewish life and the importance of family, bound in tradition, ritual observation, and obligation: the concept of extended family ingrained into them in a way that outsiders might misunderstand as exclusivity and use as an excuse for persecution.
The main character in the novel is Hannah, the daughter of a Rabbi. After her family is murdered and her village razed, she is adopted into another family. She’s feisty and sometimes pigheaded, often fighting against the traditional female role expected of her, which includes women not reading and instead tending to household chores, especially the preparation of meals. In this novel, there is so much about cooking and the rituals surrounding mealtimes! On the face of it, this might not sound interesting but the author describes it in such as to makes it fascinating.
Although the story is centered around Jews, it is very much about the human condition: the delicate balance between order and chaos; the push-me-pull-you between love and hatred, and the grey areas in between. Thus, it’s a story that’s worth reading, whatever your religious or non-religious background.
I have one little criticism, or rather suggestion to the author if she plans a second edition of the novel, and that is the construction of a family tree in diagram form at the beginning of the book. The names would all be familiar for a Russian Jew from 1899, but not so for the likes of modern English-speaking readers. I got in a terrible muddle about names and about who was related to who. But don’t let this put you off reading this most worthy and illuminating work, just have a pen to the ready, and jot down who is who on a scrap of paper to keep as your bookmark, then you won’t get lost.
An exemplary review for Please Say Kaddish For Me by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields
This was a compelling read, from beginning to end and I finished it in two sessions. A thoroughly engrossing tale, with brilliant characterization. I felt as though I knew the characters well, and since I knew that a pogrom would be imminent, I found my anxiety levels increasing the more attached I became to them. Atmospheric, graphic, charming and horrifying. The pace was just right as was the changing and contrasting cycle: horror – forbidden love – bitterness – love – horror – redemption. Characters were dispatched expeditiously with just the right amount of detail and at appropriate intervals – and none of it was signaled up in advance. A vivid portrayal of Jewish family life in extraordinarily difficult times.
By J Hays
I have long been a fan of the historical fiction genre, in part because I can get a more personal view of past events than what might be presented in history books. Having said that, Please Say Kaddish For Me goes way beyond just illuminating a terrible chapter in Jewish history. I suspect many people today know little, if anything, about the pogroms that preceded the holocaust of WWII. With this novel the historical aspect is clearly well-researched. But the characters that illustrate this history are so real that I found it hard to put the book down. I needed to know that Havah would survive, that she would hopefully find her happiness. But it wasn’t just Havah that drew me in, it was Arel, and Ulrich, and Nikolai…and all the other members of this group whether family or acquaintances. Every character is strongly drawn and fully three-dimensional, complete with the personal complexities inherent in all of us. It has been a while since I have read a book that was a real page-turner but this most assuredly was. Wonderful book.
Rochelle writes with a deep passion for the Jewish people…
Rochelle writes with a deep passion for the Jewish people, being Jewish herself. Her interest in the horrific history they bear brings to light a deep dark past of the violent pogroms and persecution they were under while living in the Jewish Pale of Settlement of Russia and Eastern Europe. She is very descriptive and graphic as she moves her characters around from scene to scene, and a reader can identify with their pain, turmoil and despair.
Oliana Kim’s review of Please Say Kaddish For Me by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields
To read Please Say Kaddish For Me is a journey into enlightenment. I had no knowledge of the Jewish Pogroms until I read this book. Nothing is ever taught of this in school. Like the Holocaust, such atrocities are swept under the rug and regarded as something that ‘happened to the Jews.’ No, it is still happening to yet another race, gender, religion. Thank you, Rochelle, for re-minding me of what will never end, but what we can do something about, starting in our own thoughts, words and actions.
For those who have never suffered discrimination or persecution, Please Say Kaddish For Me will bring empathy toward all who have. Reading this book will ignite the fire of indignation in your soul against all forms of intolerance, as well as the fire of faith in the face of despair. This work presents us with insight into the bond and traditions of what it means to be Jewish. I recommend this work of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields. Whether Christian, Muslim, Hindu or agnostic, reading it will raise your consciousness toward the revelation of our one world, one family of man, one Creator of all . . . .
~~JAMES C. WASHBURN author of Touching Spirit: The Letters of Minominike
Please Say Kaddish for Me is an adventure, a love story and a tale of survival against all odds that would be too much for most adults, let alone a sixteen-year-old girl. Hope, courage and strength shine through in Rochelle Wisoff-Fields’ novel.
~~HOLLY MCCLURE, author of The Vessel of Scion (aka Promised Child)
Please Say Kaddish for Me is a poignant window into the world of Eastern European Jews of the 19th Century. Ms. Wisoff-Fields’s beautiful prose takes readers through history to experience devastating challenges as well as tender moments. A captivating read!
~~ JAN MORRILL, author of The Red Kimono
From the first sentence, Wisoff-Field’s writing seized me, transporting me to Russia just before the turn of the twentieth century. I became the young Jewish girl, Havah, struggling to survive amid extreme prejudice, hatred and conflict. I felt Havah’s grief, anguish, strength, determination and grit. I feasted on the words of the Torah, as well as the Holy prayers, which I’d never heard. I wondered who would be the lucky man to stand beside her as her husband. Would that decision be hers to make or would the elders make it for her? Filled with suspense, beauty, love, and true-life horror, Please Say Kaddish For Me is a riveting read.
— Diane Yates, author of Pathways of the Heart and All That Matters
Please Say Kaddish For Me was enlightening and totally consuming. I connected with the protagonist, Havah, immediately. I was so concerned for all the characters, I could not put the book down. That is what an extremely talented author does, pulls you through the rabbit hole to another place, another time. I found myself looking up a bit disoriented since her descriptions and dialogue made me feel like I was right there. I am going to get whatever else Fields writes. I saw where the sequel will be out later this year, From Silt and Ashes. I have to have it! Oh, and she did the cover art. Holy smokes! She is fabulous; should have her own exhibit.
I am currently reading 4 different books that I have started over the last year, without finishing them. When I picked this book up, I absolutely could not put it down and finished it in several days. This isn’t even my genre for reading but the characters were so real and visual due to the phenomenal writing that I had to know what was going to happen next. I was very caught up in the characters. Both the good and the bad. This book would make an epic movie due to being so visual. An extremely talented artist and writer, this book should be on every book readers “want now” list.
By Brenda Thompson
This is a marvelous book about severe antisemitism even before the Nazi era. The horrors of persecution are made real and personal through the eyes of the main characters. A very worthwhile book for anyone whether Jewish or not.
What a great story! Couldn’t put it down. More to the point, a story well told, an unexpected treasure. Not usually drawn to historical fiction, I can’t wait for the next installment!
This book was so well-written, I could not put it down. Although sometimes painfully sad, it was nonetheless uplifting! I cried, I smiled, and sighed a lot. I was deeply touched by the truth of the pogroms, and the loving, strong characters. An historical novel that is as much relevant to the present, as it is to the past.
By AZ golfer
Here is your chance to read a book before it becomes a classic. They should make this into a movie.
Please Say Kaddish For Me is a well written story told through the thoughts and feelings of several unique characters. Rochelle gives the reader a feel for the time of terror for Jews in 1899 Russia. But it’s not all bad. Rochelle portrays the love of family, jealousy,forgiveness, and sharing while allowing the reader to peek into the Jewish faith and customs of the time. The character’s struggles are a mixture of passion and compassion, acceptance fear and longing.
I was spellbound by this book, which surprised me because it is not my normal reading theme. It not only tells in dynamic fashion the history of the Jews in the early 1900’s but does so through the life journey of a character truly brought to life by the author, with a valuable message that is thoroughly relevant today.
This story says to me that no matter how things change, they remain the same. Those with the most power or money are given deference to dictate what is right and acceptable. While the history of the treatment of Jews is unspeakably horrific; sadly, in reading the journey of this family I thought how the lessons of the past have not translated into application of those lessons to the treatment of people today. The same barbaric acts are perpetuated today against those with beliefs, preferences, skin color or even language different from others.
I anxiously await the next novel by Rochelle Wisoff-Fields.
It has been a while since a book captured my attention so deeply. I couldn’t put it down and forfeited cleaning house for reading!
My Yiddish is so-so (thankfully my father was a “goyim mit a Yiddishe kopf”, so I knew quite a few of them though I cannot guarantee my pronunciation ~ in my head ~ was right!) but in most cases, the English translation was given.
Horrid time for Jews in Russia under the Tsarist (Czarist) regime. The horrors this people were dealt were beyond appalling and Rochelle describes them in all their gory detail. Kudos to her for shining a light on a most difficult time and not whitewashing it.
I fell in love with Havah Cohen, the main heroine of the story. There are a lot of characters and it takes a good bit of concentration to figure out who is who and what their relationships are to each other but Havah’s story touches on each one to paint a clear picture.
Not for the faint of heart but definitely for anyone who enjoys historical stories. You don’t need to be Jewish to appreciate this story but an open mind and heart is definitely a must.
A good sign of the impact a book is having on me is whether I think about the characters when I am not reading it. I did that often with Please Say Kaddish for Me. I have read, and been impressed with previous published work of Rochelle Wisoff-Fields, but this 7-years-in-the-making opus is her best, in my view. It is an evocative, character-driven novel that brings to life the tragedies born by families during the anti-Jewish pogroms in Russia from 1903-1906. I became invested in the characters and culture set in a time of arranged marriages and millennia of tradition. It is exquisitely crafted with plot twists and, at times, a riveting, page-turning pace. The characters are palpable—the star-crossed lovers, the tradition-bound, the benevolent, the enlightened, and the evil. In three words, it is engaging literary fiction.
By Cheryl-Lynn Roberts (Brossard, Canada)
This is truly a great novel I could not put down. I chuckled, cried, hoped and was on pins and needles. I revisited moments I had heard about from friends and colleagues in my past. Please Say Kaddish for Me, allows the reader to learn more about history by falling in love with a family and their friends. As Scarlet was the beauty and strength in Gone With The Wind, Arel is that and much more; the reader falls in love with her every moment throughout the novel. It is a story about faith, family and resilience. Each new character the writer adds is a not only a new person but an experience.
Rochelle uses poetic prose with such skill I had to reread many passages and breathe in her beautiful narrative style. Falling in love with Arel and Havah, reminded me of my experience reading many novels by Chaim Potok.
By Susan H
This story is so captivating. The nuggets of truth that break your heart and the fun woven in to give you hope. Very entertaining!
The story gripped me from the very beginning and kept me reading until the very end. It was a touching story of the life of a Jewish girl, Havah, during the time of Christian persecution toward Jews. Rochelle Wisoff-Fields did an excellent job writing the book and I was particularly impressed with her word crafting of the scene when Havah was teetering between life and death. I recommend this book to anyone who are interested in Jewish history or simply want a good book to read.