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Sondra's Search

  • Sondra's Search

Product Description

Sondra Afelbaum and her cousin, Howie, are among the few Jews in Lincoln, the small, Kansas town where they live. The feeling of being different is only intensified for Sondra when she is eleven years old and discovers that her mother, Helga, was a concentration camp survivor. After this revelation Sondra and Howie learn the story of how the Torah scroll they use for the small services in Lincoln was rescued by Oscar’s brother following Krystal Nacht. They are chagrined to learn that a second scroll was also rescued and then later lost. The two cousins make a childish pact to travel to Europe and find the missing Sefer Torah when they are older.
As Howie is increasingly pulled into the social scene in high school, Sondra’s strong Jewish roots keep her from feeling like one of the crowd. Only after she joins the drama group does she begins to feel like a normal teenager. However, her parents do not permit her to go to the Winter Prom with a non-Jewish boy. Instead, she is sent to her cousins in Kansas City for the weekend. It is there that she meets the cantor’s daughter, joins the youth group, and sets her feet on the path to Torah observance.
From Sondra's Search:
Howie followed her out of the house and jumped on his new ten-speed. As they pedaled side by side, they made a handsome pair. He, with his Nordic good looks, was quite a contrast to his dark little cousin. Once inside the library, Howie picked up a Sports Illustrated and Sondra made her way to the card catalogue. It was the first time she had used it. Normally she would browse through the fiction section and grab books whose titles interested her. This time she looked up two subjects, Nazi and Holocaust. After wandering through the shelves she came to the librarian’s desk with two books. One was an elementary World War II history and the other was The Diary of Anne Frank.
The librarian pointed to the second book. “You might find this a little difficult, Sondra.”
“I want to try,” the girl insisted.
“Okay,” the woman said as she stamped the books.
The two cousins parted on the library steps and Sondra rode home to delve into her books. She made no mention of them to her mother, but when she did have questions she turned to her father, her Oma, or sometimes even to Cousin Oscar. Soon the librarian realized what subject Sondra was interested in and guided her to find books that were on her level.
Summer came with its ninety-degree-plus weather and the pool opened. Howie gave Sondra no peace every morning until she agreed to meet him at The Crystal Plunge. She never suspected that he had received directions from his parents to keep her out of her room and in the sunshine. Although she was uncomfortable to be seen in a bathing suit with her budding new shape, it was fun frolicking in the water. And Howie was more like the old Howie, talking far less about rock groups and far more about fishing, baseball, and cookouts. Sondra continued her reading, but she learned that she could still enjoy life, even if the Nazis had murdered her grand-parents. By the time she entered seventh grade at the junior high school, she had developed a maturity that impressed her teachers.

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