Yael Shahar

Alex died in Auschwitz, having betrayed his faith and his people. Now he's been given a single miraculous chance to put things right--but his fate is in the hands of a woman who only wants to forget, and a rabbi who isn't sure whether to be Alex's teacher or his judge.

Sixty years after the Holocaust, Alex is a silent prisoner of his memories, des
Date Published :
April 2018
Publisher :
Kasva Press
Contributor(s) :
Nathan Lopes Cardozo
Format Available    QuantityPrice
Binding : Paperback
ISBN : 9781948403009
Pages : 504
Dimensions : 8.5 X 5.5 inches
Stock Status : In stock
Binding : Hardback
ISBN : 9781948403030
Pages : 496
Dimensions : 9 X 6 inches
Stock Status : In stock


Where does memory go
when it cannot be spoken?

Now we know: It goes on to haunt future generations. It passes unscathed through temperatures that can melt iron and reduce bone to ash. And somewhere far removed in space and decades into the future, a stranger wakes out of a sound sleep with an inexplicable nightmare and a despair so deep as to negate life itself.

Alex died in Auschwitz, having betrayed his faith and his people. Now he's been given a single miraculous chance to put things right--but his fate is in the hands of a woman who only wants to forget, and a rabbi who isn't sure whether to be Alex's teacher or his judge.

Sixty years after the Holocaust, Alex is a silent prisoner of his memories, desperately seeking atonement for what he did to survive. But his destiny is entangled with the choices of a woman born into a different place and time--she alone can help him keep his promises to the dead. Yael, born and raised in Texas, has no connection with Alex's lost world, yet she is haunted by dark memories of horrors she could not have lived. She holds the key to Alex's future, if only she can summon the courage to confront his secrets.

Determined to put himself on trial, Alex approaches a local rabbi to serve as his judge. Rabbi Ish-Shalom quickly finds that this case goes beyond anything he has ever experienced--Alex's story will challenge everything he thought he knew about death and the human soul. Now he must decide: Should he help Alex reach the oblivion he seeks? Or should he enlist the help of centuries of Jewish wisdom to bring Alex back into the world of the living? Two lives, inexplicably linked by dark memory, hang in the balance.

Based on a true story, Returning is a haunting exploration of trauma and healing, and of how memory shapes our identities. In exploring the choices we make in a choiceless time, this compelling story shows the power of the human spirit to transcend even its own destruction. It will leave you changed forever.

Advance Praise for Returning

Returning is an extraordinary and challenging book on many levels.
— Philip K. Jason, Washington Independent Review of Books

Intriguing! At times dark and haunting, at times lyrical and introspective. Returning will resonate long after ‘the end’.
    — Dan Sofer, author of the Dry Bones Society trilogy

Editorial Reviews

From the horrors of the Birkenau crematoria and the dilemmas of survival that are forever etched in our hearts, to the profound dialogues of Talmudic debate, Returning reaches from the past to the present, challenging us to examine ourselves as Jews, and our relation to God in a world gone mad…. Shahar’s writing echoes with the voices of Elie Wiesel, Viktor Frankl, and Primo Levi, and reaches even beyond—giving us a book of resounding impact that will surely continue to affect us for years to come.
    — Chana Rosen, Jewish Press Book Supplement
A well written and highly unusual Holocaust memoir with a twist.... An absorbing and courageous book, Returning is a must-read for those wishing to embark on a profound, painful, but ultimately hopeful journey into the human soul. By its end, the reader cannot help but be a changed person.
   — Yael Unterman, author of Nehama Leibowitz, Teacher and Bible Scholar
Of all the books I’ve read about the Holocaust, this one gives me the feeling of going deepest into the experience of those who went through it (or didn’t get through it).... The book is also remarkable for the insight it gives into the way Jewish law comes to grips with the kind of dilemmas they faced. The writing is starkly beautiful.
   — Esther Cameron, author of The Time of the Other and editor of The Deronda Review

While the subject matter of Returning makes for heavy reading at times, the writing is superb throughout. Indeed, the telling often has the pace of a thriller as the reader is led through a maze of conflicting memories and complex relationships, until the full truth of Ovadya’s story is revealed.
Since the questions raised by this unique and profoundly moving book are of the deepest kind, Returning is certain to be read, discussed, and argued over for many years to come.
    — Libi Astaire, author of The Moon Taker
Well-written and poignant, Returning takes us to the depths of despair, to the lowest point of humanity, and at the same time, gives us a glimpse of a much bigger picture—of the nature of reality, the physical world, and the human soul.
The book is heavy yet uplifting at the same time, as it portrays the indestructible bond between a Jew and his Creator.
    — Yehudis Litvak, Learning and Teaching Torah through Literature
The quality of writing in this book is so excellent, both in style and in content as well as in the method of revealing the story (emails, letters, online communications, etc.) that it not only demands our attention but also makes it visually easier to read. Returning is an exploration of the boundaries between right and wrong, choices and choicelessness, and the consequences of crossing those boundaries. It challenges notions of black and white, and calls into question the sovereignty of death itself. Writing of this quality is so infrequently encountered that it seems as though this book is destined for major awards.
   — Grady Harp, Amazon Hall of Fame, Top 100 Reviewer.

About The Author

Yael Shahar was born in the U.S., but followed her dreams to Israel as a teenager. Since then, she has spent most of her career working in counter-terrorism and intelligence, with brief forays into teaching physics and astronomy.

She served as a reservist in the IDF’s hostage negotiation and rescue unit, and as a sniper in Israel’s Border Guard “Matmid” units.

A dynamic and sought-after public speaker, Ms. Shahar has lectured worldwide on subjects related to trends in terrorism, non-conventional and techno-terrorism, threat assessment, and asymmetric conflict. She has published numerous articles on these topics in books and refereed journals. She blogs on Jewish topics at

Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo is the Founder and Dean of the David Cardozo Academy and the Bet Midrash of Avraham Avinu in Jerusalem.

A sought-after lecturer on the international stage for both Jewish and non-Jewish audiences, Rabbi Cardozo is the author of 13 books and numerous articles in both English and Hebrew. He heads a Think Tank focused on finding new Halachic and philosophical approaches to dealing with the crisis of religion and identity amongst Jews and the Jewish State of Israel. Hailing from the Netherlands, Rabbi Cardozo is known for his original and often fearlessly controversial insights into Judaism. His ideas are widely debated on an international level on social media, blogs, books and other forums.

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