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Roni Robbins

Roni Robbins

Hands of Gold

A fictional memoir about a Jewish man born in 1905, who records his extraordinary life story for his children.

Eighty-five-year-old Jewish American, Shimshon (Sam) Tzvi Fox, moves into a nursing home with his wife of sixty-five years, Hannah. When his youngest daughter buys him a recorder and a set of blank tapes, Sam decides to record his life story. He knows he doesn’t have much time left and he wants his children and grandchildren to know the truth about his life. Born in Hungary in 1905 Sam was one of thirteen children, in a close-knit Jewish family. Raised on a farm in a small Jewish community he and his siblings had a modest but happy childhood. Relations with the goyim (non-Jewish community) were generally friendly, but tensions grew following the outbreak of the first world war in Europe. Sam describes the impact of the war, as schools were forced to close, and it became increasingly difficult to make ends meet on the farm.  Many of Sam’s elder siblings emigrated to America in search of a better life. Sam longed to join his siblings, but was forced to stay in Hungary to take care of his mother and younger siblings following his fathers death. To avoid conscription at the age of 18, Sam travelled across Czechoslovakia, Austria, and Germany, and found employment on a ship headed to North America. He arrived in Montreal, Canada, where he found work as a cobbler and first met his wife.  When Hannah found a job and moved to New York, Sam soon followed, crossing the border illegally in 1926. As the couple settle down and make a new life for themselves, Sam describes the highs and lows of raising a family in the New York melting pot.


Hands of Gold: One Man’s Quest to Find the Silver Lining in Misfortune is a fictional memoir inspired by real events, by author Roni Robbins. This is an enlightening and poignant novel about one man’s life and journey from Eastern Europe to New York. Set against a backdrop of war, and rising social and political tensions across Europe, the book captures the experiences and challenges faced by Jewish people during the first half of the twentieth century, to more recent times. Whilst this book deals with some difficult issues, such as the atrocities of war and antisemitism, it is primarily a book about love and family, hope and resilience. Robbin’s storytelling beautifully captures the Jewish faith, culture, customs, language, food, and identity. It will appeal to those who enjoy historical fiction, particularly those interested in the Jewish immigrant experience.


Star rating: 5 Stars

Summary: An enlightening and poignant fictional memoir about one man’s life and journey from Eastern Europe to New York in the early twentieth century.

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