From the Aegean island of Rhodes, 9-year-old Clara Barki began writing to her uncle and aunt Ralph and Rachel Capeluto in Seattle, Washington. This smart and determined young woman used the dying language of Judeo-Spanish, or Ladino, to report news of the relatives Ralph left behind on Rhodes and about their Sephardic Jewish community.
Soon, her letters turned to desperate pleas for help as life for the Jews of Rhodes deteriorated under the control of Italian dictator Benito Mussolini, who allied with Adolph Hitler. Forgotten and never thought of again, Clara's letters turned up more than 60 years after they were written. Preserved and translated from Ladino to English, they paint a vivid and detailed 16-year story of how one family triumphed and survived after they became refugees and rode the roller coaster of successes and failures to legally win permission to immigrate to the United States.
This compelling story of perseverance, determination, love, and grit is brought to life in A Hug from Afar, a historical narrative nonfiction memoir that journalist Cynthia Flash Hemphill has edited and compiled based on the letters written by her mother Clara Barki (aka Barkey) from 1930 to 1946.