A Jewish Family’s Epic of Hope, Tragedy, and Survival
Easter Sunday, 1903 ushered in three days of government-sanctioned brutality on the Jews of Kishinev, Russia. In the aftermath of slaughter, rape, and destruction, Meyer and Sadie Raisky escape to New York City with their thirteen-year-old daughter, Miriam. Their home and business gone, reeling from devastating personal tragedy, the Raiskys cling to the promise of a better life in America. But upon arriving in New York City, Miriam and her parents quickly learn that promises are easily broken in the tenements of the Lower East Side. When circumstances force Miriam to abandon the schooling she loves to help support her family, she goes to work at the infamous Triangle Shirtwaist Factory, joining other immigrant girls who work long hours for low wages in shocking conditions. Against the backdrop of emerging workers’ rights and women’s rights, Miriam’s social conscience and young womanhood both blossom when she falls in love with a union organizer. Meticulously researched and rich with beautifully drawn characters that bring 20th-century New York City to life, Ashes is a testament to the resilience of the human spirit, and a haunting elegy to the young women whose suffering inspired changes to the working conditions in the garment industry.