The Shovel and the Loom by Carl Friedman

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Chaya, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, lives in the old Jewish quarter of Antwerp, Belgium. Twenty years old, a philosophy student (and nonbeliever), she takes care of the children of an Hasidic family by day. At night she stays up reading - Nietzsche, Einstein, the Baal Shem Tov. The more she reads, the less she seems to understand. Does God exist? What does it mean to be a Jew? Chaya questions the reasons for anti-Semitism, the role of women in Judaism, the reasons for suffering. Mr. Apfelschnitt, an old friend of her father, tells Chaya that Creation is a masterpiece, that Science can't replace God or the Torah. But her father advises her to study physics. Then he goes back to his old maps of Antwerp, looking for the spot to dig, to recover the two suitcases he buried during the war. Trying to put her Auschwitz past behind her, Chaya's mother obsesses over baking, tea, and weaving. Her advice to Chaya: go out dancing. Finally, it is Chaya's love for Simeha, the three-year-old boy in her care, that provides the key. She clashes with his tradition-bound father, then propelled by a tragic accident, learns just how much she is tied to her people and her faith.

About Carl Friedman

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Carl Friedman was born in 1952, the daughter of Holocaust survivors. She lives in Amsterdam
Published January 17, 1996 by Persea Books. 176 pages
Genres: Education & Reference, Literature & Fiction, Religion & Spirituality. Fiction

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This time, Friedman's story concerns a young woman student, living in the Jewish quarter of Antwerp, whose interest in the principles of Judaism is heightened, and then severely tested, by the haunting figures of her still-living parents, who have survived the concentration camps in contrasting w...

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Their neighbor, old Jacov Apfelschnitt, a devotee of Jewish mysticism, declares Judaism is ""the only religion that promises redemption in exchange for critical thinking."" Friedman, whose first novel, Nightfather, portrayed a girl who tries to unlock her father's concentration camp past, broaden...

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