Today, I’m recommending a new book for you to read. Actually, I hope you’ll understand that I’m really INSISTING you read it — it’s that important, for several different reasons…
Yes — it is (yet!) another Holocaust book. I know. I know. Lots of you tell me “Enough already!” with the Holocaust books. But there can be no such thing until all of them have been written, and that, my friends, will be never. Because stories remain to be told — by survivors, and by their children and their grandchildren, who may not yet have heard them all — and by those who read them, reflect on them and respond to them.
So here is the newest, titled “Separated Together,” subtitled “The Incredible True WWII Story of Soulmates Stranded an Ocean Apart.” The author is Dallas psychologist Kenneth Price, and the story is that of his in-laws — the parents of his wife, Gloria. This is a book that combines one of the best-told accounts of one of the worst realities of our communal Jewish history. Its story begins with family histories and childhood accounts of Sonia Jaglom and Abe Huberman, who lived and grew up and knew each other and married and had children, all in rather typical Jewish fashion for small-town Poland years before the horrors that were yet to come. Who could have imagined them then?
Abe had a head for business and used it to make a career in leather footwear, something he pursued successfully when events preceding the unthinkable were certainly not on his horizon. But one of Sonia’s cousins decided he wanted to visit a brother who had emigrated to the United States years earlier, and urged Abe to come along; the reason for his trip, the cousin told the American consul in Warsaw, was to visit the New York World’s Fair. Abe remembered Cousin Zalman’s pitch for accompaniment: “He talked and talked. He was a good salesman and he persuaded me,” Abe recalled. “I figured I would take two suitcases of products with me…. This won’t just be a jaunt to America to see the Fair, but I’ll see family living in New York City and maybe, just maybe, I will do some business.” Ah — how little do we so often know in advance: That was the summer of 1939. He was to return to Sonia in seven weeks, but he was not to see her again for seven long years…after she had survived Auschwitz, after their children had been murdered…
Yes indeed, Abe was able to do business in America — very good business, because he had to build one for himself. Those long years involved Abe searching for Sonia, Sonia searching for Abe. And meanwhile, Cousin Zalman lost his wife and three children to the Holocaust.
He may or may not have been one before he began researching and writing this amazing book, but in doing so, author Price became a real historian of the entire world in that era of turmoil everywhere. It took him six years to complete the book; he has dedicated it to his family “heroes,” both living and dead.
In his end section of afterwords and acknowledgments, he writes: “I remain in debt to the love of my life, Gloria… for marrying me…and granting me the honor of writing her parents’ story. Gloria was a devoted daughter to Abe and Sonia; she remains a loving wife and partner, wise counselor to our children, and a patient and devoted grandmother.”
You will shed many tears as you read this incredible tale of separation and reconnection. But at the end, as you finish, you will be smiling…
Harriet P. Gross can be reached at