ESRAmagazine

When we Flew Away

"When we Flew Away" by Tami Shem-Tov
אני לא עוזב, הוצאת כנרת זמורה ביתן
Kinneret, Zmora, Dvir – Publishing House Ltd.
Soft cover, 2020, 271 pages. Cost NIS 89.
Available at all bookshops in Israel and on www.kinbooks.co.il/
Reviewed by Richelle Shem-Tov

This book is intended for young adults but t can be enjoyed at any age. It is written in Hebrew
and though a sequel to the book I am not a Thief - אני לא גנב - it can be read and enjoyed quite
separately. To read it you need to be able to read in Hebrew, or, you may have children or
grandchildren that can do that.
I am probably not the right person to write this review since the author, Tami Shem-Tov, is my
daughter and I cannot pretend objectivity. I can only affirm that it has been widely acclaimed in
the Hebrew press. As a conscientious mother, I have read all of her many books and enjoyed
most of them. However, I found this one to be an exceptional reading experience and feel the
need to write something about it for ESRA readers.
The two main characters are fictional but based on an amazing true story which took place at the
time of the Holocaust. We originally met Itcho and Rosy in the first book – I am not a Thief
where they spent several years in the orphanage run by Janush Korjak in Poland before the
outbreak of the Second World War. Their lives there and the influence of this amazing person
and his educational institution are ever present in the background of their story. This narrative
ive succeeds in capturing the imagination of young people of modern times – nearly 80 years
after these events took place. We are presented with a picture of adventure and love between a
boy and girl as they set out on a journey. One which takes them from the dark corner of the
Warsaw Ghetto, through Nazi occupied Poland, across the border to Czechoslovakia. There they
join with hundreds of fleeing Jewish immigrants, under the leadership of the Betar movement.
As Itcho himself is a member of the Bund organization, we are given some insight into the
political influences of those times. The entire group set sail down the Danube on a derelict old
river boat called Pencho to the port at Istanbul. They were given to understand that they would
be picked up by a sea-worthy ship which would bring them to Palestine. The ship never
materialized. They were forced to sail on this rickety, over-crowded boat into the Mediterranean,

there to face the fierce demands of harsh weather conditions and stormy seas. Thanks only to
determination and courage, as well as assistance from passing sailing vessels, notably Italian,
they all survived and we know that at least Itcho did eventually reach Tel Aviv.
The story is based on true events backed by research and under the guidance of an historian.
Though it takes place in war-torn Europe under the dark shadow of the Holocaust, it is not
governed by the horrors of that period. Rather it is one of human endurance, courage, and
ultimate victory of the good and brave over huge hurdles of difficulties and hardship – both
natural and man-made. It is a page turner, told with humor and suspense, making it hard to put

down. 

 

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Tuesday, 20 April 2021

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