The Hidden Girl, the Journey of a Soul

by Marika Henriques

Book Review

“God, has made everything beautiful in its time, in its due time was the world created. The world was not fit to be created before then.”

And when hearing this, Rabbi Abahu said: “From this we learn that the Holy One, Blessed be He, kept creating worlds and destroying them, until he created these worlds of heaven and earth, saying “These, please me; those did not please me”.

At a time when antisemitism is raising its ugly head yet again, and when there are less and less of the generation of Holocaust survivors to pass on their stories as witnesses of what the world is capable of, I welcome Marika Henriques’s book ‘The Hidden Girl, The journey of a Soul”, a powerful and moving story, a very different Holocaust story, because it expresses deeply buried feelings not only in words but in extraordinary drawings, tapestries and poems. The combination is unique. This is a book recalling the period of European History reminding us what happened and what can happen at any time and at any place when people allow hatred to prevail. However the book is also about survival, determination and expression of optimism in life and humanity.

Marika, at age of 74, has celebrated her Bat Mitzvah as an expression of her optimism, and as she could not have had it in communist Hungary post war. At age of 72 she joined an enlightened Jewish community, where she was welcomed with open arms, and this warmth inspired her to learn Hebrew and strengthen her Jewish knowledge, culminating in her Bat Mitzvah and and now this book. In her book (page 74) she writes: “The Torah scroll from which I read my parashah was a Czech scroll. Over 1500 scrolls came to Westminster Synagogue from Prague, where they were gathered from synagogues destroyed by the Nazis. They were rescued and restored ........ I felt the triumph of continuation, of survival, my own and that of my people.....”.

It is a must read for all, young and old, as each generation shall be spiritually uplifted, gaining strength and hope from stories such as these.

Marika’s Bat Mitzvah was a timely reminder of the efforts we still have to make, realising and knowing that humanity has choices, and those choices should be to create a better and more tolerant world. God has not despaired when the world was created and we should not either.

Rabbi Dr Thomas Salamon

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