Thank you Rona Arato for this review.

Living Legacies – A Collection of Personal Narratives by Contemporary Canadian Jewish Women – Volume VI (Liz Pearl, editor; PK Press, Publisher)

Review by Rona Arato

I have had the pleasure of reviewing two narratives from the Living Legacy Collection. These stories speak to all of our realities as women and as Jewish women. They encompass a world of experience: love, family, loss, achievement and – perhaps most poignantly – memories. Thanks to Liz Pearl, the experiences of women today will be preserved for future generations.


Rabbi Lori Cohen’s story of her journey to the rabbinate is at once inspiring and puzzling. She talks about feeling Jewish from a very young age. Her trip of discovery to Israel at the age of 20 and her subsequent journey is the stuff that good stories are made of. But something is missing. She talks about her obligation, as a mother of three boys, to provide a Jewish home for them. Her efforts to start a synagogue in her neighborhood and her work with Or Hadash are amazing and I commend her efforts. For me, the memoir is engrossing however leaves many unanswered questions. This is an interesting piece that would benefit from greater depth and a wider field of vision. I would like to see an extended version with the blanks filled in.


Bayla Cheskes has written a poignant memoir about the bond between a father and daughter. Her sun-drenched memories radiate love and understanding. And her subsequent awareness of the healing power of the Kaddish is inspiring. The little Minyan group that she started and continues to support is a testament to the power of community to support us in times of bereavement and need.

Her closing paragraph sums up her message. “If loss creates emptiness, then perhaps only kindness can fill it, assisted by the unrelenting passage of time. Three years ago, on Yom Kippur, I stood again at the walkway, instinctively checking if my father might return. The moment passed and I turned away, when suddenly I heard two pairs of footsteps. I looked up… a gentle man was walking to synagogue with a little girl. She had long brown pigtails and held her father’s hand with certainty. I stood quietly, letting them walk ahead.”

What a lovely tribute to her father and to her own growth as a daughter, and member of the Jewish community.


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