Shulamit arrives in Berlin with her husband Emmanuel to work in a Jewish old-age home on the shore of Lake Wannsee. The couple is from Jerusalem, where they belong to a closed ultra-Orthodox Jewish community. They have run up debts marrying off their four daughters, and see the stay in Germany as an opportunity to improve their financial situation. But Emmanuel is shocked by the very different way of life and returns to Israel, leaving Shulamit behind to cope on her own. Freed from her husband’s stifling presence, Shulamit builds herself a full and satisfying new life. In the world that now opens up before her, she also finds love with a Czech-born German physician, Dr. Ulrich Eckhardt, and learns of the suffering of the Volksdeutsche, the ethnic Germans living outside Germany after World War II. Shulamit’s story is interwoven with that of her elderly mother, Lily, whom Emmanuel sends from Jerusalem to keep an eye on his wife, but who becomes her confidante. Hungarian-born Lily, a cool and coquettish mother, has never before revealed her past. But now she tells Shulamit and Ulrich the traumatic story of her life as an orphan who was sexually abused by her uncle. He and his wife abandoned her in Budapest and fled to America, leaving her to the cruel fate that awaited Hungary’s Jews. With wisdom, courage and sensitivity, Judith Rotem spins the webs of relationships between mother and daughter, man and woman, Jew and German.
Captivating, jolting, heart-gripping, consoling.
Author Haim Be'er
I read it without stopping. A story woven into another story. Life circles within life circles, and the impossible becomes possible.
You’ll read this book with bated breath and it will remain with you for a long time after you’ve reached the last page. Lily’s story really jolts you… Reading When Will You Come to Me is a profound experience.