“Jews in the Garden” Book Talk

Top Pick July 14, 2023 Brookline Free
Judy Rakowsky (Courtesy photo:

Celebrate the release of “Jews in the Garden: A Holocaust Survivor, the Fate of His Family, and the Secret History of Poland in World War II” with author Judy Rakowsky, in conversation with Carey Goldberg at Brookline Booksmith.

1944: Heavy footfalls thud on the road on a rainy May night. A band of gunmen scour a hilltop farm, acting on rumors that it harbors a Jewish family. For 18 months, the Rozeneks have been hiding safely, but their luck is about to run out. Only one from the family of six will live to see the sunrise. Sixteen-year-old Hena Rozenek shelters in the woods until morning…and then she runs.

Forty years later: Holocaust survivor Sam Rakowski Ron has lived in the United States for decades, never thinking he could return to the Polish village he fled as a teenager. But now he’s ready to talk about what he heard, what he saw, and what he knows about two separate families of cousins who were his neighbors, and presumably were killed during the war. The story Poland presents to the world is that Poles saved more Jews than citizens of any other nation, that any murders in Poland were committed by Nazis and Nazis alone. But Sam, while defending his countrymen, suspects a painful truth. The stories he shares with his younger cousin, Judy, an investigative journalist, send them off on a decades-long journey unlike any other to find out what happened to the Rozenek family and ultimately reveal the secrets the Polish government is still desperate to keep.

“Jews in the Garden” is a globe-trotting detective story that turns investigative eyes and ears toward the hidden events in Poland during the Holocaust. Judy and Sam, the unlikeliest of sleuthing duos, knock on doors, petition court documents, seek clandestine meetings, and ultimately discover what really happened to the “Jews in the garden next door.”

About the speakers:

Judy Rakowsky is an award-winning journalist whose career of enterprise reporting for The Boston Globe, The Providence Journal and People Magazine often led coverage on the major stories of the times from organized crime, priest sex abuse and bank fraud to security issues after 9/11 to online bullying of teens in the 2000s. She has garnered awards for feature writing, sensitivity to crime victims, enterprise reporting, domestic violence and online bullying. She lives in Cambridge.

Brookline resident Carey Goldberg has held staff reporting jobs with The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, The Boston Globe, WBUR/NPR and Bloomberg News. As a Moscow correspondent for The LA Times, she was a Pulitzer finalist for coverage of the 1991 coup, and covered the collapse of the Soviet Union and its aftermath. Her latest book is “The AI Revolution in Medicine: GPT-4 and Beyond.”

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Friday, July 14, 2023, 6:00 pm - 8:00 pm
Brookline Booksmith
279 Harvard St
Brookline, MA 02446

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