A Curious Journey Through Timeless Humanism

filhosol4By Adriana Jorge

 

“Moishele” is the only diminutive the reader will find in Mauricio Wrot’s debut as a novelist.

Through a humanistic view of life, Wrots, a Brazilian journalist who lives in Rio de Janeiro, will take the reader on a poignant, touching and also delicate journey: 200 pages that tell the story of Mendel Rosenstrauch, a Polish Jew who immigrated to Brazil before World War II.

Moral and religious dilemmas are openly expressed. The book will certainly affect the reader, regardless of religion or cultural background, as it highlights historical and tragic events such as the Holocaust, the Inquisition, slavery in Brazil and Allan Kardec’s Spiritism.

The lives of Mendel, a charismatic sexagenarian Polish immigrant, and his also Polish, quiet and frustrated wife Faiga — in Brazil, more precisely in Rio de Janeiro, in a neighborhood called Grajaú — will turn upside down on a rainy day in 1938, with the unexpected arrival of Vicentina. Looking for a job as a maid, the single mother, a descendant of Brazilian slaves and a practitioner of Umbanda (an Afro-Brazilian religion), brought with her a baby son, Jorge, who will later become Moishele, as he was “saved from the waters.”

As the book accurately describes the precepts of Judaism, the freethinker and Kabbalist Mendel will introduce Moishele to his own religion and, at the same time allow him the freedom to search for his own faith, which includes attending Catholic masses and Umbanda’s ceremonies. Both characters, together, will deal with ethical paradoxes, doubts and situations related to racism, anti-Semitism, fate, science, astrology, love affairs and passion, among others.

The description of Brazilian costumes and environment provides a soft, friendly touch to the book, in contrast to deep and polemical topics such as the Inquisition, religious conversion and the consequences of slavery in Brazil.

A trip taken by Mendel and Moishele to Europe and Israel adds a veneer of culture and history to the book, which includes a touching description of a boy visiting the Western Wall for the first time and the witnessing of the Vatican’s ostentatious beauty.

Moishele and the Flowerless Rosebush is an absolute must-read for those who enjoy delicate and controversial facts related to religion, history and different cultures; above all, for those who believe it’s possible to love your neighbor.

Shalom!