I Am Forbidden

by Anouk Markovits (Hogarth) ISBN 9781781090022

 

Traditional religious laws have the ability to both create and break bonds of love.  In Transylvania during the final days of World War II, Rabbi Zalman Stern takes responsibility for two orphaned children. Young Josef is sent to the United States and Mila is enfolded in the Rabbi’s family and becomes a sister to Atara.

 

The sisters grow up together in the Hasidic community in Paris with strict rules and traditions. Atara is the inquisitive one, she keeps asking questions and not satisfied with the answers decides to leave, resulting in excommunication.

 

Mila remains to marry Josef and move to the States with him. She’s content with her life but mourns the barren status of her marriage. To become pregnant within the boundaries of strict religious laws, she shrouds ‘an act in sin, so that Satan will not notice its goodness and interfere (…).’ 

 

This act burdens her marriage with a huge secret. When her eldest granddaughter is about to get married the secret threatens to be revealed with enormous consequences. Mila reaches out to Atara for help. Will Rabbi Zalman relent and show mercy to the Forbidden Ones?

 

Markovits hails from a Hasidic background and paints an informative, balanced picture of the community and its rich history in beautiful poetic writing. A special and rewarding read.

 

Josine Overdevest

4/5

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