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‘Lucca’s Stories’ filled with delightful tales

“Lucca’s Stories” by Rachel (Lucca) Ginsburg (Veni Vici Books, Amazon kindle, paperback, February 2014)

It isn’t often that a reviewer has to choose how much to write about the publisher when reviewing an equally interesting book, but that is the case here.

Andy Halmay lives in Toronto and is 86 years old. Initially he owned the Veni Vici Entertainment Company for a global village theatre channel. When that didn’t work out, he pursued feature film development.

In January 2013, he registered his publishing company and subsequently published “It Ain’t Fine If It Don’t Rhyme,” a collection of lyrics he wrote over the past 60 years. This was followed by “One Hundred Naked Girls,” an adaptation of a screenplay he wrote; “The Zsa Zsa Affair,” about his Madison Avenue years; and “Ghost Town,” a fictional account in a Utah ghost town.

He met Lucca through the Web, decided to publish her stories, but she died a little over a year ago at the age of 82, so he found her daughter who signed the publishing agreement with him.

Rachel Lucca Ginsburg was a survivor from a town in Romania who lived in a retirement home in Haifa. In 2003, at the age of 73, she decided to write her biography then sent stories to friends, which were subsequently published in the Jerusalem Post.

Halmay called her “the Grandma Moses of Jewish Literature — in English.”  

They met only once in 2007. Prior to making a trip to Israel, he had googled the town in which he was born; his family had left in 1939. He discovered Lucca was a survivor of the same town, and her family had left a few years later thus avoiding the holocaust that occurred there. Her family escaped to Curacao and then to Israel.

They emailed back and forth, he read her stories, and he felt motivated to publish them.

The 47 stories are utterly delightful. “White Gloves” tells her adventure hunting in Haifa for gloves for the Purim performance; “Democracy” relates her experience running the English-language circle; “After the Holiday” recounts the typical Israeli response to doing things when a holiday is coming; “Back Ache” tells how she dealt with this issue between her friend’s advice and that of a doctor; in the “The Chair,” she explains the difficulties of replacing her old chair with one that fit the room and was comfortable for her.

The subjects all revolve around her life in the senior citizen residence and the people around her as well as her day-to-day life, and it is all written in a charming, endearing style.

Anyone who appreciates the lifestyle of once vibrant, active people who are living in retired person’s residences will identify with Lucca’s stories.