“A bride and groom write letters of faith, hope and love to each other, a richly romantic gesture. They have discovered a new home for both of them, generously given. Will this home become a house of blessing?
As Naomi and Chaz begin their lives together, each embracing a deep religious heritage, they must learn to trust and to accept each other. All is not perfect.
Naomi is highly strung and used to managing things in her own way. Chaz is beginning to understand the responsibilities of being the head of their new household. The pair also encounters some ugly bitterness because of their faith.
The evil of anti-Semitism is powerfully revealed, and so are Chaz's very real spiritual struggles as he comes to terms with a faith that is both old and new to him. Reading 'Beginning Anew' I was saddened to learn that such religious intolerance still exists, and shocked at the speed that 'friends' could change so swiftly from welcoming Chaz to turning away from him.
Yet there is much to celebrate: friendships and support, the blessings of small and large gifts and sweet considerations, such as dining at a restaurant where the table for every newly-wed couple is laid using the same tablecloth as the restaurant owners did on their wedding day.
The novel is full of fascinating insights into the Spanish Jews and also the American-Spanish Jews. I also really enjoyed the way Paula Rose Michelson describes and illuminates the light and love of marriage: the delights of the couple learning each other, the taking care of each other in sickness and health, and the rich anticipation of marriage, of becoming one. Their union is spiritual first and the struggles of the young couple to defer their earthly marriage until the right moment are charmingly and tellingly shown.
There are large themes in this novel: the search and yearning for family, the personal impact that the Jewish diaspora had on people and families. Naomi must search for her family but fears that they might not accept her now. And will two religious communities with deep shared roots: Jews and Christians accept each other? At the end of the story there is hope.” http://amzn.to/1g4WSvF