Much to Savor in The Collected Writings of Sarah Rose Horowitz

Of all the books written by conservative activist and Frontpage Magazine founder David Horowitz, there is no doubt that his most heartfelt and poignant is A Cracking of the Heart, a tribute to his daughter, Sarah Rose Horowitz, who passed from this life in March 2008 at the age of 44.

In his tribute, Horowitz recounted how his daughter’s absolute generosity of spirit affected his life and those around her -- despite her many physical afflictions brought on by Turner syndrome, which tragically shortened her life. This excerpt from Horowitz’s eulogy profoundly touched on that shining character trait that Sarah possessed:

Many people would have been depressed and then overwhelmed by the difficulties Sarah faced in the ordinary business of her life; the medical procedures she was put through, which often did not work ... she packed more interests and more travels, more experiences and more learning, more friends, and more projects, more people that she touched in her brief lifetime than most people do in earthly journeys that are twice as long. And she left a greater vacancy behind. ...

A born candidate for dependency, Sarah never allowed herself to become anyone’s burden but her own … never mind the difficulties she might encounter. ...

But most of all, her father was proud of her heart, and her generosity of spirit, even toward those with whom she vehemently disagreed.

Thus, Sarah Rose Horowitz has been well spoken for -- but now she gets the chance to speak for herself.

Anyone who read A Cracking of the Heart and fell in love with Sarah’s indomitable spirit and indefatigable good will should round out the picture by picking up the newly published The Collected Writings of Sarah Rose Horowitz. The collection consists of a novelette, short stories, poems, Torah commentaries, letters about Sarah’s involvement with the Jewish tribes in Uganda known as the Abayudaya, and her last radio interview.  Her father’s eulogy appropriately rounds out the book.

The extremely engaging novella, The Family of Man, opens the collection, and it alone is worth the price of the book.

This is the story of a Jewish “hippie” family, the Friedmans, with two girls and a boy, moving away from the politically charged atmosphere of '70s Berkley and back to the mother’s middle class home after the parents split.  It obviously has autobiographical aspects; but someone with no idea of the author’s background would still find it emotionally potent, with vivid and likable characters and a sense of time and place that draws the reader into the world of this family.

But while the family members in The Family of Man are distinct from the people around them, the story does not focus on differences, but on the common human experiences we all share.

That’s not to say that there aren’t little moments, told with sly humor, that emphasize those differences. But the story neither devolves into a sitcom-like story of Hippies-in-Squaresville nor an America-bashing selection from the Oprah Book Club, which purports to expose how horrible it is to be different in bigoted Middle America.

In one anecdote, a helpful neighbor lady offering gardening tips wonders if people like the Friedmans would be okay with using poison on outdoor pests. After discovering that the woman is curious whether Jews would do such a thing, the mother good-naturedly muses, “I thought she meant hippies.”