In Amsterdam, Salmon Kool’s bar mitzvah celebration is approaching — but the world as he knows it is rapidly dissolving. It is World War II, and Salomon’s family and friends have been feeling tense for a while. That tension spills over when, just days after Sal’s celebration, the Nazis invade Holland. The word no puts an end to everything he’s previously enjoyed: bike-riding, going to school and the movies, spending time with friends, riding the tram, and even walking on the sunny side of the street. Over the next three years, his family begins to disappear, starting with his beloved siblings and father. Because Salomon is small for his age, his mother hides him behind a closet door. He emerges fearfully, watching through a window as his mother and aunt are shoved into a truck and driven away. The Nazis have ransacked their apartment; he is alone and doesn’t know what to do.
In the ensuing years, Sal moves from place to place with the help of brave, generous people — Jews and Christians alike — who are willing to put their own lives at risk. He survives through a combination of luck and quick-witted thinking; and he serves as a reminder to never forget.
This revised and expanded edition of Salomon Kool’s story is both fast-paced and accessible. Readers will hold in great admiration a young boy who survived despite losing everything, and everyone, he had.
Award-winning journalist and freelance writer, Helen Weiss Pincus, has taught memoir writing and creative writing throughout the NY Metro area to senior citizens and high school students. Her work has been published in The New York Times, The Record, The Jewish Standard, and other publications. She recently added “Bubby” to her job description.