Between Two Walls

(New Book) In the Crook of the Rock


Jewish Refuge in a World Gone Mad
The Chaya Leah Walkin Story

Series: Jewish Identities in Post-Modern Society
ISBN: 9781618117861
Publication Date: March 2018
Extent: 400 pp.; 18 illus.
Price: $34.00 USD
Format: Paperback

Focusing upon the life of Chaya Walkin—one little girl from a distinguished Torah lineage in Poland—this book illustrates the inner resources of the refugee community that made possible survival with dignity. Based on a wide variety of sources and languages, this book is crafted around the voice of a child who was five years old when she was forced to flee her home in Poland and start the terrifying journey to Vilna, Kobe, and Shanghai. The Song of Songs is used to provide an unexpected and poetic angle of vision upon strategies for creating meaning in times of historical trauma.

Vera Schwarcz was born in Romania and became an historian of China and a poet in the United States. For the past four decades she taught at Wesleyan University and Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Her work was awarded the Guggenheim Fellowship, a Fullbright Fellowship, a Woodrow Wilson Fellowship and a Lady Davis Fellowship. Schwarcz is the author of nine books about Chinese and Jewish history, including Bridge Across Broken Time: Chinese and Jewish Cultural Memory (Yale University Press, 1989) which was nominated for the National Jewish Book Award and Colors of Veracity: A Quest for Truth in China and Beyond (University of Hawai’i Press, 2014). She has also written six books of poetry, including most recently The Physics of Wrinkle Formation (Antrim House, 2015). For more information about her work, visit

“Schwarcz’s sensitive biography of Chaya Leah Walkin serves as a useful counterpart to Bostoner Rebbetzin Raichel Horowitz’s account of the challenges she faced in transplanting the traditions of Polish Jewish Orthodoxy onto American soil. Unlike Horowitz, Schwarcz details a critically important middle passage between Poland and America. Schwarcz builds upon a cornucopia of Shanghai Jewish studies, especially those of David Kranzler and Irene Eber, to profile a religiously observant woman within a city of approximately 18,000 other Central and Eastern European Jewish refugees. Shanghai Jews embraced ideologies which ranged from the ultra-Orthodox to the purely secular. Rebbezin Walkin stands distinct as an individual from the Pohost, Lukatch, and Pinsk rabbinic traditions.”

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