This Bronze Medal Winning book (Independent Publishers Book Award in the category of World History) tells the story of Sam and Esther Goldberg who met in the Polish forest – just outside of the Treblinka Death Camp. It was August 3, 1943, just one day after Sam escaped the Camp during a prisoner uprising. With 870,000 murdered at Treblinka, Sam was one of approximately 65 to survive and live until the end of the war. Esther had been hiding in that patch of forest for a year and was out that morning, looking for mushrooms to eat. They met and after hearing of the prisoner revolt, she took him to the Righteous Gentiles who, at danger to themselves, hid them in their barn for three days while the Nazis, Ukrainians and Poles scoured the area. Deciding to stay and hide with Esther, they dug a forest pit where they “lived” when it was not freezing. They subsisted in the pit and the barns – hungry, cold, and scared – for another year until they were liberated by the Red Army in July of 1944.
This is only one piece of their harrowing story of survival. Sam and Esther were Holocaust survivors who lost their entire families because of Hitler’s Final Solution. After four years in Displaced Person’s Camps, they arrived in New York Harbor to build a new life.
The author, Karen Treiger, is Sam and Esther’s daughter-in-law, and with in-depth research and a bit of luck was able to find the three surviving children of the Styś families – those Righteous Gentiles who helped Sam and Esther during that dark time. She and her family traveled to Poland to walk in Sam and Esther’s footsteps and to meet the Styś children. It was intensely emotional, and the family heard some of what Sam and Esther lived through from those who helped them survive. Also, with the help of a Polish Priest, she was able to locate and meet a Goldberg cousin they never knew they had.
My Soul is Filled with Joy: A Holocaust Story brings to life the horror of the Nazis’ actions and the toll that it exacted on so many Jewish families. This is also a story of hope, love and determination; of a family rediscovering the path taken by their parents to find life and freedom in a new world. Sam and Esther’s story is one of love and the will to live no matter what they had to endure. It reminds us that we are still learning the lessons of the Holocaust.
“Karen has written a powerful and personal account of Sam and Esther Goldberg. This book is a must read for those interested in the greatest crime in the history of mankind.”
Chris Webb, Author/Historian, Founder of the Holocaust Historical Society
,br> “One can only bow one’s head, out of an unutterable gratitude, to the author for her contribution to the sacred narrative of our people. I call this book sacred, for (as with all forms of scripture) it tells not only what happened – but how to live in light of the story.”
Rabbi Yitz Greenberg, President Emeritus, CLAL: The National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership; chairman, the United States Holocaust Memorial Council, 2000-2002.
“We are haunted by the question of inexplicable evil. If you want to be inspired in spite of the horrors one human being can do to another human being, read this book.”
Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Chief Rabbi of Poland
“In Karen Treiger’s important book she tells the story of her in-laws. Their suitcases were filled with only tragic and bitter memories. Yet, they had the courage to pick themselves up by the bootstraps, wipe away the tears, turn despair into hope, and rebuild Jewish life.”
Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Dean, Simon Wiesenthal Center