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'Someday We Will Fly': Novel spotlights Shanghai Jewish settlement

By Jocelyn Eikenburg | | Updated: 2019-06-24 15:42
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The Shanghai Jewish Refugees Museum is on the site of a former synagogue, seen here on May 27, 2017. [Photo/VCG]

A trip to the Shanghai Jewish Refugee Museum, housed on the site of the former Ohel Moshe Synagogue, first sparked her interest in penning a novel set in the neighborhood during the 1940s.

"The photographs of children in particular inspired me to write the novel," DeWoskin said, pointing to images of teenage boys on a table tennis team in matching T-shirts with school logos, paper dolls made for a refugee child, and a little girl and her Chinese girlfriends with lighthearted smiles.

"The museum is so intimate and thoughtfully curated, full of evidence of how devoted this children's community was to creating a sense of normalcy for them. The adults managed to give their children childhoods, even though the wartime context was excruciatingly difficult and unfamiliar," DeWoskin said. "I wondered: How did the refugees, in cooperation with their Chinese counterparts in Shanghai, create schools for their kids, camps, music lessons and table tennis teams? And those shirts. I found the small insignias on those shirts so moving, the idea that someone had gone to the trouble to outfit the kids in that cheerful and unified way. Finally, the combination the photos evoked —of danger and resilience —inspired me to write the novel."

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