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Escape from Mount Moriah
Memoirs of a Refugee Child's Triumph

by Jack Engelhard ©2001, Hard Cover, ISBN: 978-0-9674074-8-7, 117 pp

Fleeing from the Nazi invasion of France, the Engelhards, a proud and wealthy family, are forced to adjust to life as common refugees in Canada. Highlighted by a youthâs adventures as his eyes open up to his new world, the 18 compelling short stories combine both the urgency of the family's circunstances with the ironic side of trying to fit into a new culture. With themes of humiliation, intimidation, and alienation, this powerful book illustrates how the Holocaust did not end in 1945, but continued to reverberate through successive decades, even until the present day.

Author’s Introduction

My old friend and editor Dave Appel was the inspiration for this gathering of memoirs and for the writing of this book. As for the book’s editing and publishing, the credit goes to my publisher Rob Huberman. Each of these two uncommon men saw things in these stories that I didn’t.

Dave, the Philadelphia Inquirer’s book editor for many years before he died, was a rarity among editors. He loved writers. More to the point, he loved the written word.

Our friendship began at a time when I was writing a three-times-a-week op-ed column for the Inquirer. One day I decided to introduce myself to this legend—a man who knew Hemingway, Steinbeck and Michener. Dave was the last of that late, great generation.

Since I had but one book to my name, The Horsemen, I expected a quick hello and goodbye. Instead I was greeted with warmth and enthusiasm, qualities that endured throughout our friendship.

As these things go, we got to talking about his background, and then mine, and as incidents of my childhood came to the surface—memories that I had put aside for so long—finally one day Dave said, "Stop! Stop talking. I don’t want to hear another word. Write! Stop talking it away. You’ve got to write down this material before it’s all gone."

So I didn’t say another word, and I wrote. But with some resistance.

Since I had hastily gotten myself Americanized, I never thought of myself as a survivor. Survivors were those who had endured the death camps. And I didn’t even think of myself as an immigrant. Immigrants have gold teeth and speak with accents, while I played baseball and joined the Boy Scouts and took pliable girls to the drive-in movies in Cincinnati and, later, became part of the Beat Scene in Greenwich Village. Who had time to remember, or to care?

Moreover, when in spurts I finally did quicken to the fact that I indeed was a survivor and an immigrant, the thought of recounting my family’s years under Nazi Occupation—followed by our successful, though terrifying escape—was too daunting. In my apprentice years as a writer, I had tried but always failed to get anything worthwhile down about those events.

I was just an infant when all those exploits transpired and I would have had to undertake much research in order to get the stories right—and I simply could not get up the gumption for such an effort, perhaps because so many writers had already beaten me to the task.

The only road still unmarked was this: the life of a child refugee.

This was terrain not well traveled, and so sketch by sketch I went ahead with this collection, motivated by no greater ambition than to its being a keepsake for my children. And once I got started I couldn’t stop. It all came flooding back. I was in a hurry to get it down, remembering what Dave Appel said about putting it on paper before it’s all gone.

Yes, the children. It’s so important for them (and their whole generation) to know—and to never forget. Their heritage begins with Abraham emerging from Ur of the Chaldees and proceeds with a parent who was also trapped in a godless world, until he was commanded to GO FORTH (Lech Lecha)—and likewise found himself a stranger in a strange land.

The children must be made aware that the freedom they enjoy today in America—and too easily take for granted—comes with a responsibility to appreciate and respect the past.

Then comes the matter of anti-Semitism. To put it bluntly: It’s still as pervasive as ever. I’ve spoken at enough college campuses to know that there are too many ministers of hate who have cleverly targeted the impressionable young and have gained a new world of adherents—among them blacks, whites, and even young Jews.

Thanks to them, I am convinced that for each Jewish kid growing up today, there’s an anti-Semite to match. With some watering, they sprout like weeds.

And…who would have thought…that the greatest calculated massacre of all-time would produce, barely a generation later, an obscene legion of Holocaust deniers…people who say it didn’t happen—just as there once were those who claimed that the earth was flat.

It was mostly for these reasons—that is, to wage against forgetfulness and the terrorism of lies—that the book’s publisher, Rob Huberman—also a lover of words—encouraged the publication of this work, persuaded, as he was, that it possesses a universal message.

Maybe he’s right.

Jack Engelhard
June 2000

My Father Joe

"The designers — the nobility of a handbag factory — where were they? There I’d find my father."

Now we had it good. Six million never made it out. We…we escaped France when the Nazis and their gendarmes were beginning their roundups in our district in Toulouse. We walked the Pyrenees…hid in Spain…rested in Portugal…and found refuge in Montreal, Canada — much later we moved to America.

Amazing how so much can be summed up in a single paragraph. And life, as we know, is not lived by the paragraph. Take my word for it that our escape was a tremendous adventure — two years of running, evading, a hundred close calls in cars, trains, ships, a thousand moments of doubt, fear, helplessness, and being spooked at every turn by the sights and sounds of Nazi boots.

But I won’t go into all that — that’s another novel, and frankly, it’s a story that’s already been written by others — even cheapened and trivialized and, to tell the truth, unless you lived it — you’ll never know. But maybe I can share with you what it was like being a refugee.

As for my father, and so much of this story is about my father, let me say that he was no ordinary man. He was a man of great learning. He knew Torah, Talmud, Mishnah, Kabbala — all of which had been crammed into him as a Yeshiva-boy in Poland. He was also a man of action. When he found out that we were on "The List," no words of caution from my mother could detain him. He knew just what to do...

Now here we were in Montreal.

My father was a businessman. Like Rockefeller was a rabbi, so was my father a businessman. He tottered from failure to failure, but with pride. He was his own man.

He used to say, "I don’t know what it is with me. I can’t work for another man." This was no weakness in his eyes. No, it was strength — a sign of character.

To which my mother would say, "Yes, a character you are." But, for a spell, my father did work for another man, and Mr. Snow was his name.

Mr. Snow was a handbag manufacturer. He had a factory on St. Lawrence Street where he employed 25 workers — designers, cutters, and sewers. In Europe, my father had had a handbag factory of 40 workers — or 50, or 60, or maybe 100.

The number grew along with my father’s wrath, for he did not like working for Mr. Snow. So he’d come home and say, "He calls himself a fabricant?

"I had a factory of 50 and he’s going to teach me about handbags?" The next day it was a factory of 60, and so on. My father was a designer for Mr. Snow. Father designed handbags with frames, following the classic European fashion and the style that had made him revered in the trade. Now he’d bring home his designs for my mother’s review...designs which Mr. Snow had rejected again and again.

Mr. Snow, you see, had no faith in handbags with frames.

Frames were out.

Zippers were in.

"Zippers," my father said.

In time, though, he stopped being contemptuous. And he stopped bringing home his designs.

Gradually, he fell into one of his great, trance-like silences.

Mother would ask him how things were going in the factory and he’d say, "Good enough." She’d ask him why he stopped bringing home samples. He’d respond by staring off in the distance, and I never knew what he saw there, except Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He lived more in their world than in his own.

Naturally, one day he forgot his lunchbag. "Go bring this to your father," my mother said.

I walked past the Ste. Lawrence Street grocery stores, butcher shops (Kosher-Bosher), bakeries and everything that was retail and wholesale. Further up, factories had been turned into tenements, tenements into factories, and in such a place, warped from top to bottom, worked my father.

Approaching the landing you could hear the roar of the sewing machines. Closer, you smelled the adhesives and the leather. Inside, I did not know where to begin. Cutters were bent over huge tables slicing up giant stretches of animal hides. Sewers were grinding in frenzy, never once gazing up, as though somewhere in their urgency of livelihood they had lost the human sense of wonder and curiosity.

For the most part, these were Jewish refugees who were paid by the piece. But the rush of their machines were like wails. These people were in a hurry to forget the past and catch up to the present.

The designers — the nobility of a handbag factory — where were they? There I’d find my father.

I stepped into the stock room where rough-talking characters were packing finished handbags into cardboard boxes. These types had a word and a look for everybody. I heard them yell, "Joe. Joe, where’s my Coke?" Then they’d laugh.

There must be an errand boy here, I thought, named Joe. Every place has a Joe.

I heard others in the factory take up the same chant. "Joe. Joe, where’s my Coke?"

This Joe, some joke he must be.

Then I saw my father. He was carrying a tray of Cokes, but not moving fast enough.

"Over here, Joe. Atta boy."

How, I wondered, does a man go from Noah ben Jacob to Joe?

My father would have had the answer…but I would never ask.

By Chris Leppek
Denver Jewish News

Author and playwright Jack Engelhard is best known as a craftsman of fiction, the most celebrated of his works being Indecent Proposal, which became a much-discussed film starting Robert Redford.

This slender but hard-hitting volume proves that Engelhard can wield as powerful an autobiographical pen as a fictional one.

The Mount Moriah reference in the title is explained in the subtitle: "Memoirs of a Refugee Child's Triumph." Instead of the Biblical mountain where G-d asked Abraham to sacrifice Isaac, the sacrificial circumstance of Engelhard’s metaphor is the Holocaust.

The author survived the Holocaust as a child, along with both of his parents, but he doesn’t dwell on that episode for much more than this characteristically razor sharp paragraph: "That’s another novel and, frankly, it’s a story that’s already been written by others – even cheapened and trivialized and, to tell the truth, unless you lived it – you’ll never know. But maybe I can share with you what it was like being a refugee."

On one level, the refugee stories Engelhard preserves are boyhood memories of an almost Tom Sawyer character, albeit with ironic Yiddish twists – adventurous, humorous, sometimes wonderfully strange. The travails of his mother’s first taxi ride in New York – when the only words she could say authoritatively in English were "Penn Station" – are touchingly hilarious. Young Jack’s lonely journey into a rough neighborhood, supposedly populated by a fierce youthful cadre known as the "Purple Gang," was fraught with tension, but ended in a pleasing surprise.

Despite this light leavening, it is the infinite sadness of the family’s Holocaust past, and their new status as common refugees in a society that has little use for refugees, that tints most of these memoirs with sad and ironic tones, conveyed with a novelist’s understated irony. Engelhard’s memories of his father, respected in Poland as a masterful Torah scholar and reduced to a lowly worker’s assistant in America, are the somber foundation upon which Escape From Mount Moriah ultimately rests.

"How, I wondered, does a man go from Noah ben Jacob to Joe?" the author asks at one point.

"My father would have had the answer . . . but I would never ask."

This is tough, emotionally charged territory – the experience of a son who loves his father but must watch helplessly at the elder’s humiliation and decline – and illustrates powerfully how the Holocaust really didn’t end in May of 1945, but continued to reverberate through successive decades, even until the present day.

This is the bottom-line story that Engelhard tells, and tells very well indeed.

By Baila Lazarus, Editor
The Western Jewish Bulletin

It's rare that a short story will make me laugh out loud. Smile, yes - that knowing sort of grin that appears when you appreciate a good joke or pun. But laughing out loud seems to be reserved for listening to Jackie Mason tapes or watching Jerry Seinfeld steal a marble rye. This time, the laugh came while reading a story about St. Agathe - a town in the Laurentians outside Montreal. Those who have ever summered in Montreal and visited the Laurentians will know St. Agathe, a beautiful town on one end of a large lake.

"To spend a week in St. Agathe was a sign to your countrymen that you were doing OK. Two weeks in St. Agathe and you were doing very well. Three weeks meant you were getting up there with the Gewertzes and the Bronfmans. A month in St. Agathe? You must be a Gewertz or a Bronfman!" So writes Jack Engelhard in "A Month in St. Agathe," setting up a wonderful tale about how his own family spent a month in the town, but only because they were too poor to leave once they got there.

Such is the bittersweet ending in many of the short stories in Engelhard's latest work, Escape From Mount Moriah: Memoirs of a Refugee Child's Triumph.

The title of the book derives from the part of the Torah read in synagogue on the second day of Rosh Hashanah, about Abraham's near sacrifice of his son, Isaac, on Mount Moriah, which resulted in the covenant between God and Abraham.

In 1944, when Engelhard was four years old, his family escaped Nazi occupied France and made their way to Canada. This was Englehard's own "escape from Mount Moriah." The stories in the book describe events in his life as a child living in Montreal. Engelhard eventually became a best-selling novelist - his personal triumph. His most well-known work is Indecent Proposal, written in 1993 and later made into a movie starring Robert Redford and Woody Harrelson.

Englehard describes this latest book as a collection of sketches about the life of a child refugee; a life shaped by the events of their escape. His family had little money because his father, who had been a successful leather goods manufacturer in France, could not find success as a businessman in Montreal. This sad state results in the first story in the book, "My Father Joe."

Other effects of being a refugee pop up in many of the 18 tales - the excitement of welcoming relatives from New York because so many of their relatives had died in Europe; the strain of sharing a tiny apartment with another family on St. Urbain Street; the feeling of being an outsider; his father's embarrassment of asking for money from a man who used to work for him in France.

To be honest, however, there are many stories that don't fit with the themes of escape and triumph. Most of the tales are cute anecdotes of a young boy's experience in a new country - his first job, watching his first World Series on television, getting into fights with children his own age. There's nothing to imply that the child had escaped death; nothing to suggest that there was any abnormal trauma suffered by Engelhard at all. In fact, many of the stories could have been written about any young boy almost anywhere in North America.

The pleasure of the book is in the writing itself. Engelhard's prose is simple and lyrical, almost as though it were the six- or eight- or 10-year-old boy telling the tales himself. And one can almost hear the accents of his parents as he describes their conversations.

"Like Rockefeller was a rabbi, so was my father a businessman," Engelhard writes in "My Father Joe." "He used to say, 'I don't know what it is with me. I can't work for another man.' This was no weakness in his eyes. No, it was strength - a sign of character. To which my mother would say, 'Yes, a character you are.' "

Be careful when you pick this book up. You won't put it down until all the stories are read.


Book Review by Eugene Narrett
(Eugene Narrett is a writer, artist, & Professor of Literature at Cambridge College in Massachusetts.)

Remarkable lives, lives filled with chiaroscuro, make for great literature whether fiction & non fiction, and Jack Engelhard's remarkable life has led to a notable gift for writing. He has demonstrated this with novels so taut with ideas and action that they find their way to Hollywood (& inevitable simplification -- Indecent Proposal) and more recently, with a volume of memoirs whose succinct evocations of person, place and mental process allow worlds of sentiment to stand silently present without crowding or directing the reader's own response and reflection. Impelled by his sensitivity to the ambiguities of motive, empathy, ambivalence, & striving for a saving certainty, Engelhard is a master of the telling moment and phrase, of the summary comment (his characters often get the last word) that implies even more than it clearly states. In evoking the fullness of a human person, he has the simplicity and deftness of a master, a sharp mind, self-awareness, and a deep & feeling heart.

The author knows that the roots contain the essence of the tree and its fruit, however far the winds of circumstance may carry its seeds. And so in this volume, vignettes about his father are frequent. Noah Engelhard was one of those immigrants who never adapted to the wrenching culture shock of his forced transplantation (from France to Canada during WW II). Originally a youthful Torah scholar & leather cutter in Poland, wars in Russia and Poland brought him to France where he prospered as a master designer of leather handbags, and owned a factory in Toulouse. But the Nazi occupation destroyed that, and his generosity to other refugees exhausted the remainder. In Canada, his classic designs were out of fashion and he, Noah ben Jacob became "Joe," the guy who fetched Cokes in another man's factory: "Joe, Joe, where's my Coke!"

The author's father was a Jew too gentle and ambivalent to impose his teaching methodically on his son; an uprooted Jew who carried the House of Study within him and who searched every Sabbath for a synagogue in which the Rabbi was not a shallow positivist, affirming his congregation's attenuated Judaism; who searched even for a serious argument that would revive the world of Torah that had been violently uprooted.

Left to his own choosing, the life of a scholar would have suited my father fine. He belonged in a House of Study, secluded from the turmoil of business, removed from the urgencies of daily cares. In a Yeshiva his knowledge of Torah could be stimulated, his wisdom put to the test -- and his worth as a scholar and a man could be recognized and appreciated. But that never happened.

In that clarity of description, gift for succinct summary, and alertness to pathos, that sensitivity to the demands and language a culture imparts, Engelhard's literary gifts shine.

Along the way, in brisk but loving detail, Engelhard sketches another world, a distinct culture not merely remembered but felt so fully it is reconstructed in spirit:

Approaching the [factory] landing you could hear the roar of the sewing machines. Closer, you smelled the adhesives and the leather. Cutters were bent over huge tables slicing up giant stretches of animal hides. They were grinding in frenzy, never gazing up from their machines, as though somewhere in their urgency of livelihood they had lost the human sense of wonder and curiosity.

As Engelhard paints it, the world of exile extends from the fashionable and also the back streets of post-war Montreal, from two-bit backbreaking jobs, to tenuous status as low-rent tenants at whim, to country vacations paid for by nerve, worry and belated, make-do jobs. Always aware and happy with what he's gained in the New World, especially as an American, he is keenly aware and deftly sketches the soul-wrenching loss & distortions that emigration, especially forced emigration and impose.

But these experiences -- with rats in the weeds at a garden-nursery, with Jew-hating city toughs, with relatives, rich and poor, who couldn't relate, with eviction and frequent poverty -- did not defeat but aroused and deepened the author's then young sense of awe at the variety and mystery of human motive and deeds. His insight was quickened by seeing his parents various efforts to adjust to the loss of one world and immersion in another in which he moved almost effortlessly; but like many first generation Jews, never with a sense of fully belonging; always with a sense that something essential had been left behind.

This volume's attention to up-rootedness (so like the masterly paintings of Samuel Bak, of whose art, and whose own memoir, this work reminds me), and a lifetime reflecting on the many facets of this experience, enable Engelhard to offer several wonderful epigrams about the singularity of Jewish experience, so ferociously and awesomely recapitulated in the past 60 years, the years of his life (born July 1940, as the Nazis overran France). In discussing the nearly untranslatable Jewish expression, "nu," a word that carries within it bemused acceptance, Engelhard speaks of the paradox of Jewish survival, of the pure flame, belief in or memory of such a flame inside a soul repeatedly buried in dust and ashes. "It is a kind of hopeful resignation," he writes; a will to live and somehow taste some of life's sweetness that always carries "both hope and hopelessness." The mind sees and the heart feels the defeats and impossibilities of realizing the dream; yet the flame in the soul still glows. As the Hassidic saying puts it, "the soul of man is the candle of God." And though God is only marginally present in these stories, one senses that Engelhard is always ready, even eager, for Him to speak.

Many of these short vignettes have a clarity -- narratives so vivid in detail and sparse in evocative diction that they shine, filling the everyday prosaic world with the spirit of the world to come -- like Hassidic folk tales transposed to the cities of suburbs of the new world in the 1940's and '50s, tales whose traits kept their wonder for someone who saw one world in the context of another. This quality is very palpable and wondrous in memoirs like, "Relatives from America," "A Sabbath Drive," "A Telegram from Israel," and "A Sister from the Past." Mystery and ambiguity fill the unspoken spaces of these simple tales. Needing a lift into town on a Sabbath afternoon in the country, young Jack gets a lift from a friendly French Canadian driver though neither understands the other: one has no English; the other, little French. But the vignette is not one of simple goodness or trans-cultural humanity. Though no one knew or saw the act of kindness, a few weeks later the Rabbi of Jack's Yeshiva summoned him and his father to meet. "You were seen hitchhiking on the Sabbath," he charges. "When," his father asks. "Where was this?" There's no answer, just the fact. Hadn't he learned over and again that "One sees," that "on the Day of Judgment, even the walls will testify against you..." Was the kindly driver a tempting demon? Is it possible that just as they believed in the vanished world of Jewish Poland, nothing is hidden, not even in suburban North America for a family that is sporadically religious; perhaps especially for those who are sporadically religious.

Wonder arises from those simple moral dilemmas everyone finds as they walk their daily lives, or simply gets the mail. One day a telegram comes from Israel: Jack's father's mother, whom Jack himself has never seen and with whom his father has scarcely communicated in half a century, has "at age 102, been gathered to her people," in Israel. Why should his father, who treasures the memory of his mother's saintliness, know such a sad fact, one he cannot change? So the youth conceals the telegram until the banal routines of a laundry day bring it to light. A guilty revelation dawns: "I had committed a sin; I had interfered with the mitzvah of sitting shiva and saying kaddish. My sin could never be undone." Walking the streets of Montreal that evening, the dark sky suddenly opens to reveal an intense brightness, as if in supernal confirmation of his thoughts. "You meant well; what's done is done," says his father. Yet in the meantime, wonder and the beyond have asserted themselves in a heart formed by millennia of exile and the imperative to remember and hold on. Common sense and the commonplace do not negate, but serve as vessels for retaining wonder and faith. Assimilation is never complete, the stories suggest; it too becomes a medium through which the eternal will emerge and shine, layering people and events with eternal meaning and dignity.

And these are remarkable people, teeming memorably in a book so spare and easy in its telling one reads it in less than two quick hours. And then one returns to reflect, on the warm-hearted but officious sister, whose loneliness makes her needy, and whose finely honed sense of shame leads her to depart as suddenly as quietly as she arrives. On a middle-aged man, a holocaust survivor, weeping at the sight of a newspaper photograph, of a Jewish soldier, finally; of a talented, bullying choirmaster, and the shame of muddy boots at a wedding; of an adolescent watching the world series at a malt shop while the local Romeos flirt and then go out back with the beauty behind the counter, taking the TV with them. These anecdotes are rich with a range of initiations and a broad palette of moods, insights, and memorable encounters with Truth packaged simply for our wonder.

The collection ends with an anecdote in which Engelhard, in his annual visit to an Orthodox synagogue, finds himself among men of his father's generation and culture, looks at himself as a new father in the context of what kind of Jewish tradition, and what sources of Jewish strength he, an externally assimilated Jew, will be able to bequeath to his own son. As he listens to the chanted prayers and ancient melodies,

It occurred to me then, that I was now 42, and when my father was that age, he was an old man, one of the old men of the synagogue. He also knew everything. Years from now I wonder, who there will be to show me the right page? And will there be any old men left for my son? He is only two years old, and the old men cover him with love. To them he is the flame. He is their eternity.

In his doubt, sense of loss and falling away, and in his love, Engelhard affirms his caring and his faith, for the intertwining of his son, his people and tradition. In his question, his succinct but poetic description answers itself in an ancient verse. "In Zion there will be a remnant, and they will inheritĹ "

These wonderfully readable memoirs have the vivid reality of a lived dream; they sparkle like islands of an enduring world in the sea-spray of our urgent everyday lives that tends to reflect back to us only the facets of the present. But we know there is more to our lives. Engelhard intentionally shaped his reminiscences into eighteen memoirs, explaining that the number '18' in Hebrew spells "life," chai, and also the affirmation, "he lives." Memory and sensitivity, like self restraint and shame, are branches of love and understanding of the mysterious beauty of life, a well of soul instilled in its own unique ways of suffering and hope into generations of Jews for millennia. Beyond what the mind believes or reason can show, the vivid descriptions and memories in this book are forms of honoring this tradition, sparkling simple facts attesting to its endurance.
By Camille-Yvette Welsch
Foreword Magazine Engelhard, author of the best seller Indecent Proposal, writes and anecdotal memoir relating the physical and emotional dislocation of his childhood due to the Holocaust and his family's escape from Nazi-occupied France. Rather than elaborate on the tribulations over the course of that escape, however, the author focuses on his family's inability to remain safely in one place and his father's incapacity to succeed in the new country.

The book consists of 18 short anecdotes on what it meant for the author and his family to be poor, to be Jewish, and to be survivors. The voice is familiar and colloquial, giving the feeling of an oral tale, and the stories shift from watching the World Series on TV in a Montreal news and candy shop to the interiors of the Garment District.

Engelhard creates the central metaphor through his use of Jewish stories and symbols. He writes of his father as being steeped in Judaism and the Talmud. He is a man who argues at every synagogue in town, and able to understand why Jews, both in Canada and in the United States, fail to argue and question. Engelhard creates a parallel between him and his father and the way each chose to live their lives. The father returns to the Talmud to reason out his answers and the son turns to writing, stripping the situation from its detail to get to the real stories of fear, alienation, and familial love. Nevertheless, the book is, in many ways, a tribute to the faith and spirit of the father.

The memoir's true intention is realized in the final vignette, " The Old Men and the Synagogue. " Here, the author emerges fully cognizant of his relationship to his subject. He is now both a father and son, an American and a Jew. The identity that eluded him in the previous chapters is now intact, and that knowledge provides him with the authority to write clearly, concisely and movingly about understanding the continuity created by his belief. " Life is the process of learning who you are," says Engelhard's father, a quote that best encapsulates the book and its project.

Jack Engelhard’s novel Indecent Proposal has been translated into 22 languages and is a bestseller around the world. Praised for its “sparseness of Hemingway but moral intensity of I.B. Singer,” the book has been described as “a gem that was overlooked” until the release of Paramount’s movie starring Robert Redford and Demi Moore.

His recent award-winning novel, The Days of the Bitter End, takes readers back to the streets of the political and cultural focal point of the sixties: New York City’s Greenwich Village -- at the moment of one of contemporary history’s life-changing events -- John F. Kennedy’s assassination. Engelhard “was there” during that thrilling era. He was the doorman at the now-famous Bitter End nightclub that played host to many counter-culture legends including Bob Dylan, Peter, Paul & Mary, Lenny Bruce, Bill Cosby, Richard Pryor, and Jack Kerouac.

Engelhard is also the author of The Horseman, Deadly Deception, and the award-winning Escape from Mount Moriah: Memoirs of a Refugee Child’s Triumph, that depicts his childhood adventures after his family’s escape from the Nazi invasion of France. His op-ed newspaper column, “A View of the Absurd” is distributed nationally and he has written three plays.

Deadly Deception is under development by Fast Carrier Pictures in Hollywood as the movie "The Crapshooter." Reminiscent of "The Hustler" and "The Cincinnati Kid," the drama focuses on Julian Rothchild, a crapshooter who runs afoul of an unscrupulous casino boss one memorable weekend in Las Vegas.

Also based on a screenplay by Engelhard, tough guy actor Frank Vincent will star with James Caan in "Sinking Springs," the unlikely story of an Amish drug-smuggling ring that operated out of Lancaster, Pa. in the 1980's.

Jack recently completed a manuscript for a novel entitled The Uriah Deadline, a controversial thriller set against the backdrop of up-to-the-minute headlines and the raging conflict in the Mideast.

Born in Toulouse, France, Jack spent his formative years in Montreal and Cincinnati. Though not conventionally religious, he admits to being inspired by Scriptures for both style and substance, as evidenced in his writings, wherein he puts his characters to the test -- placing the spotlight on men and women to see how they behave and perform under moral pressure. His personal experiences -- beginning with his family’s dramatic escape, to earning a place as a worldwide bestselling novelist -- may explain his search for integrity in a world of chaos.

Jack settled in the Philadelphia area in the 1960s where he edited his own newspaper and later became an award-winning journalist and special features columnist for the Philadelphia Inquirer for over 15 years. He is also a former KYW News Radio and newspaper editor covering the Middle East. Jack served as an American volunteer in the Israeli Defense Forces and is a ranking belt in Krav Maga, Israeli martial arts. He currently resides in southern New Jersey with his wife Leslie and their children, David and Rachel.

Escape from Mount Moriah

  • Escape from Mount Moriah
  • Escape from Mount Moriah

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