Last Love - A Set in Paris Short Story by Chava Rosenfarb - translated from the Yiddish by Goldie Morgentaler - 2004
This work is included in the collection Survivors
During Paris in July 2019 I posted on a short story, “Greenhorn”,
by Chava Rosenfarb about a Holocaust survivor who spent time in
Paris at a displaced persons camp after liberation, later moving to Montreal where he was called a “greenhorn”. I also posted on three stories by her friend Blume Lempel, who loved Paris but knew she had to leave to survive. Paris played a big part in the creative life and aspirations of Ashkenazi Jews. This year I saw this in Marc Chagall by Jonathan Wilson in which he explains how Chagall’s painting of Eastern European settings were transformed by Paris. Yiddish artists were transformed by Paris while reshaping modern art.
Born - February 9, 1923 - Lódz, Poland
February 1940 - Jewish citizens are impounded in the Łódź Ghetto by the Germans. When it was liquidated in August 1944 some 220,000 thousand had died
August 23, 1944 - Chava Rosenfarb, her younger sister and her mother were sent to Auschwitz. As slave laborers, they built houses for Germans. From there they were transferred to Bergen-Belsen. The camp was liberated on April 15, 1945 by British and Canadian forces. All survived.
After recovering from Typhoid, she discovered her father had died while being transported to Auschwitz. Eventually she relocates to Belgium.
1950 - emigrates to Canada and begins to write extensively in Yiddish.
1970 Publishes The Tree of Life - set in The Lodz Ghetto, it is considered an essential work of Holocaust Literature
January 30, 2011 - dies in Lethbridge, Canada
“Lost Love” can only be read in the collection Survivors. The stories focus on Jews who have immigrated to Canada.
I am very glad to be reading a work by Chava Rosenfarb for Paris in July 2020. This story will not be accessible to many people so I am just going to brief.
The story centers on a sculpturer living in Paris. He is involved in relationships with two women. One is his age, late forties and one twenty years younger. His artistic work is enhanced by the magnificent art work he sees on his walks in Paris. The older woman has memories of lost Parisian love from many years ago. He has a deeper love for the older woman though he rarely sleeps with her. She has a terminal illness. She asks him to find her a young man to have sex with. At first he is appalled and hurt. Then he does find her a man who agrees. While he is having sex with her, she dies. As you might imagine this devastated both men. The older man is so upset he moves to Montreal.
Rosenfarb, I do not as of now think she was ever in Paris after the war, beautifully describes the impact of Paris on the persons in the story.
CHAVA ROSENFARB (1923 - 2011)Prize-winning writer of fiction, poetry and drama, Chava Rosenfarb was born February 9, 1923 in Lodz, the industrial centre of Poland before the Second World War. She completed Jewish secular school and gymnasium in this community where several hundred thousand Jews lived —nearly half the population of the area. The Holocaust put an end to one of the richest centres of Judaism in all of Europe. Like many Jews of the city, Rosenfarb was incarcerated in the infamous Lodz ghetto. She survived there from 1940 to 1944, when she and her sister Henia became inmates of the concentration camps of Auschwitz, then Sasel and Bergen-Belsen. Even in the ghetto Rosenfarb wrote, and she hasn’t stopped since. Her first collection of ghetto poems, Di balade fun nekhtikn vald [The Ballad of Yesterday’s Forest] was published in London in 1947. After the liberation Rosenfarb moved to Belgium. She remained in Belgium until 1950, when she immigrated immigrated to Montreal. In Montreal, Rosenfarb obtained a diploma at the Jewish Teachers’ Seminary in 1954. Rosenfarb has produced a prolific body of writing, all of which speaks from her experience during the Holocaust. Her work has been translated into both Hebrew and English. Rosenfarb has been widely anthologized and has had her work appear in journals in Israel, England, the United States, Canada and Australia in Yiddish and in English and Hebrew translation. Among the many prizes awarded her work, she has received the I.J. Segal Prize (Montreal, 1993), the Sholom Aleichem Prize (Tel-Aviv, 1990) and the Niger Prize (Buenos Aires, 1972). She has travelled extensively, lecturing on Yiddish literature in Australia, Europe and South America as well as in Israel and the United States.. From Found Treasures: Stories by Yiddish Women Writers.. from Found Treasures: Stories by Yiddish Women.