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Beth Am Women Book Talk: "Torn Lilacs" by Henry Michalski — A True Story of Love, Defiance and Hope

Sunday, March 3, 2024 23 Adar I 5784

3:00 PM - 5:00 PMBeit Kehillah

Beth Am Women invites the community to hear award-winning author Henry Michalski talk about his parents' love story and ten-year fight for survival against overwhelming odds during World War II in Nazi-occupied Europe and Stalin's Siberian gulags.

Set during the dark days of WWII, Henry Michalski describes the heart-wrenching narrative of his parent’s survival. In epic cinematic scenes, the reader is transported to the vast regions of Siberia and Kazakhstan in Central Asia.

Born in the Polish town of Gostynin, Fela Kuvent was a smart, vivacious dark-eyed beauty who loved to sing, dance and enjoy life in her Jewish milieu. She met her future husband Joska Michalski, just as Nazi Germany was casting its ominous shadows across their homeland.

Over the next horrific decade Fela and her brother Kuba fled Poland on foot, evaded the Nazis, were arrested, imprisoned, released, betrayed and separated multiple times. Fela and Kuba were deported to a remote island GULAG in Siberia, and for years were slave labor for the insatiable meat-grinder.

Fela and Joska were released from their respective soviet imprisonment and beyond all probability, they miraculously found each other again. Fela, the protagonist and heroine of Torn Lilacs is feisty, full of tenacity and integrity, with an overwhelming belief that the impossible can be achieved despite insurmountable odds. she will restore your faith in the human spirit.

Please register to participate, using the form below.

Books will be available for purchase for $20 (please pay with cash or check), and Mr. Michalski will stay after the discussion to answer questions and autograph his book.

Henry Michalski, author of Torn Lilacs, was born in Kazakhstan in 1945. As a toddler and Jewish refugee, he lived in a Displaced Person’s Camp (DP) in Germany until August 1949 when he arrived and entered through Ellis Island with his mother and father, survivors of the Shoah, and brother Jerry. One year later, the family moved to San Francisco.

Henry graduated from San Francisco State University and immediately landed a full-time teaching job at the age of 22 in Napa Valley. He enjoyed his entire career as a history teacher and was recognized as “Teacher of the Year”. Michalski traveled extensively, including a group of Napa High students he chaperoned on a peace mission to the Soviet Union.

As a freelance journalist, Michalski covered 12 national political conventions for various media outlets. Michalski also hosted three TV shows on public access channel and also served as a KVON radio personality. He co-authored Napa Valley’s Jewish Heritage with Donna Mendelssohn, which was a part of the Arcadia Images of America series. For years after his retirement, Michalski, ever the teacher, organized and moderated current events discussion. Michalski is especially proud of Torn Lilacs, a story that had to be told, but his proudest achievement are his son and daughter, Geoffrey and Elaina, and his three beautiful grandchildren.

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Mon, February 26 2024 17 Adar I 5784