Character Study – Havah Cohen

Published March 15, 2015 by rochellewisoff

If one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he

has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.

–Henry David Thoreau

Friday morning as I decorated cakes at work, I received a text message and an email from my agent, Jeanie, that began with, “I hope you’re sitting down” turned my world upside down. With several hours left to my work day, I tried to keep focused on tasks at hand while vacillating between smiles and tears. A nine-year-old dream that began with a story and nascent writing skill was about to come true.


 Click here to read all about it. 

Framed Havah

HAVAH COHEN GITTERMAN Original artwork © Rochelle Wisoff-Fields


Barefoot, wearing only a nightgown, Havah Cohen escapes the brutal massacre that takes her parents and two brothers on a frigid November night in 1899. To keep her mind off her razed village as she runs through the woods in search of safety, she recites the Kaddish, the prayer said in memory of the dead. Who else will perform this mitzvah, blessing, for them? Just before sunrise she collapses on the synagogue steps in a nearby village called Svechka, Moldavia.

Havah is the daughter of a free-thinking rabbi who saw nothing wrong with women having the same education as men. To avoid the inevitable disapproval in her new surroundings, Havah tries to keep her knowledge a secret. However, Arel, Rabbi Gitterman’s son, finds her irresistible because of it. If only Arel wasn’t betrothed to Gittel, Havah’s adopted sister.

Both PLEASE SAY KADDISH FOR ME and FROM SILT AND ASHES revolve aroundHavah, her life, her loves and her challenges which she faces with stubborn passion. Althoughshe has a strong faith in God, she pushes the boundaries of religion and traditions.

Published by W&B Publishers

Represented by Loiacono Literary Agency








50 comments on “Character Study – Havah Cohen

  • Congratulations, Rochelle. Fantastic that your dream has finally come true. You certainly deserve it. Great also that you were able to use your lovely artwork in your short story collection. I hope for the best of everything for you.🙂 — Suzanne


    • Dear Suzanne,

      One of the perks of having the publisher of High Hill Press invite me to write a collection for her to print was being able to do the artwork. I’m hoping when I finally have more time to devote to marketing and promotion that the novels will create a renewed interest in the anthology as well.

      Thank you for your kudos and good wishes. I so appreciate them.




  • Many congratulations, Rochelle. Your books sound fascinating. I only know you from FF but that’s enough to know your books will be intensively researched and well written. Your nine year search for a publisher also gives me hope that one day I will find one too!


    • Dear Liz,

      It has been an amazing journey thus far. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rewritten both of the novels. Each time I’d go to a workshop, I’d say, “Oh, I need to go back and change that or this.” Friday Fictioneers has had a huge influence on my writing, too. I realized how often I said too much in my longer pieces.

      I’ve pitched to six different agents (which really isn’t that many) three of them turned me down. At the last pitch, two were interested and I chose to go with Jeanie. A very happy choice I must say.😀 She’s had the first one for nearly three years and has never given up.

      I wish you good fortune in your own journey.

      Thank you.




    • Dear Hilary,

      I’m still pinching myself to make sure I’m really awake. Although reality of the work of the next phase is sinking in as well. I’m exhilerated and terrified by turns.

      Thank you for the congrats.




  • Congratulations…that is such a big deal. Jewish customs have always made me want to be Jewish. I yearn on the high holidays to join the throng of those walking to temple, this fallen Catholic girl. Dipping apples in honey for a sweet year, leaving a stone on a grave to say you were there. There’s such beauty in ritual. Again, I am very happy for you.

    Shalom, as you always say🙂 Susannah


    • Dear Susannah,

      There are some lovely traditions in Judaism I’ve always been happy that I was allowed to be born a Jewess. However I grew up in a non-observant home and experienced the same longings. It wasn’t until my mid-teens that I joined an Orthodox youth group and took Hebrew lessons from our leader. I was in my late forties when I realized the dream of Bat Mitzvah.

      Thank you for your lovely comments and congrats.



      Liked by 1 person

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