YA Eco Mysteries, Memoirs, Novels & Travel
The Nine Inheritors
The Extraordinary Odyssey of a Family and Their Ancient Torah Scroll
We have all fantasized about inheriting great wealth, but what is the burden if the inheritance is a rare family legacy—a hand written Torah? The Nine Inheritors tells the intimate life stories of nine heirs and how the Torah challenges them in unexpected ways. In The Nine Inheritors, Datnow recreates the worlds of our forefathers and of contemporary America. We follow the Torah and it inheritors from its “birth” in Jerusalem in the last decade of the eighteenth century, to a humble Lithuanian shtetl and then from New York City to the xenophobic South, from the top secret Manhattan Project at Los Alamos to burgeoning Silicon Valley, and from the colorful Jewish community of Mexico City to the struggling Palestinian State of the twenty-first century. All the while the Torah’s fate hangs in the balance miraculously surviving catastrophic events, until Neta Rosen, the eighth inheritor, accidentally desecrates it. In a surprising climax Samuel, the ninth inheritor, resurrects the Torah—and himself—in his own remarkable fashion. Readers of all persuasions can readily relate to The Nine Inheritors; a fascinating story encompassing the history of modern Jewry and in many ways serves as a microcosm of the culture's trials and endurance.
Book Trailer: The Nine Inheritors
The Nine Inheritors by Claire Datnow is a historical novel that follows the fortunes of one Jewish family over multiple generations. Linking their individual stories is a precious and sacred Torah scroll handed down within the family and which plays a key role in shaping their destinies. Well-written and imaginative, this entertaining novel also informs and educates the reader about many major events and movements of the last several centuries. In the end, it the inheritors embrace (or occasional attempted rejection) of their ancient religious and cultural heritage that is the central theme of the book, and seeing this process unfold over the generations takes the reader on a fascinating journey of adventure and discovery.
Gregory S. Aldrete, Professor of History and Humanistic Studies, Univ. of Wisconsin-Green Bay
This sweeping narrative pulls the reader from inheritor to inheritor, and does not slow its pace until the revelations at the end. Meticulously researched and beautifully written, Ms. Datnow's work gifts the reader with the plain joy of good storytelling. The Nine Inheritors is an excursion into a linked set of lives that you will not want to miss or soon forget.
Elizabeth Kohn, attorney
I loved every word of The Nine Inheritors. I literally couldn’t put it down. I schlepped it everywhere in case I could catch a spare moment to read. I needed to know what would happen next. From the moment that Shmuel Rosen commissions his “magnificent sefer Torah from Jerusalem” (for many good reasons and a few wrong ones) until that same Torah lands battered and bruised – and in a way, far more magnificent – in a far-off land, I found myself holding my breath. I didn’t want to break the spell of experiencing the lives of this story. I found myself thinking: “This is wonderful. This is magical.” And then, I thought: “No. This is real.” I’ve often said, “I don’t read Fiction.” I’m an historian, a scholar. From the time I was a small child, I knew my job was to remember and to study the Shoah. Even when I was very young, I always felt there wasn’t enough time to turn my eyes away from my studies. (As it turned out, I was right.) I honestly didn’t know that there were books like The Nine Inheritors to turn my eyes towards. Some people are afraid of history; or they think it’s dry; or it’s too frightening. And then, a rare book comes along that lulls you into embracing the story of it all. I used to have three favorite works of Fiction: The Last of the Just, East of Eden, and The Plague and I. Now, thanks to Ms. Datnow, I have four. Today,The Nine Inheritors quietly took its place beside the other three.
Kyla Rigney, free lance writer and reviewer
Reminiscent of James Michener’s The Source, Claire Datnow's The Nine Inheritors is a spot on course on the Jewish historical journey wonderfully told in the novelistic progression of the ownership of a sacred Torah Scroll by generations of one family. A compelling read, designed to appeal to multi-generations of readers, I recommend it to one and all, and, once having read it, know that it will occupy an honored place on one's Jewish bookshelf.
Ms. Datnow is to be complimented on three scores: First on the development of her characters, warts and all (after all, the original desire of the creation of the Torah Scroll itself was the ego need of Shmuel Rosen for a place of honor in his Eastern European shtetl). Second, on the journey not only of the Torah Scroll but the Jewish families who commitment to its preservation cannot help but remind us of those Jews who were murdered during the Holocaust/Shoah in, more often than not, unsuccessfully attempting to preserve Torah Scrolls in cities, towns and villages overrun by the Nazis and their minions. And, thirdly, for keeping herself and her readers focused on the Torah Scroll itself as, truly, the central character in the story as the Sefer Torah/Torah Scroll is central to the identity and survival of the Jewish people throughout our history.
Finally, and most importantly, while we scholars both inside and outside the academy will continue to write serious tomes about the course of Jewish history as well as critical and annotated texts of individual books of the Hebrew Bible and the totality of its anthology, wonderfully told stories such as The Nine Inheritors will continue to occupy important places with the overall literature of the Jewish people and will continue to reach people and places not otherwise touched. The Nine Inheritors is a welcome addition to that literature.
Steven Leonard Jacobs, Aaron Aronov Endowed Chair of Judaic Studies