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BOOKS Katja, a Powerful Encounter

katjaBy Ada Treves

It is truly impossible to explain the complexity and the profound humanity of Katja Petrowskaja, recent winner of yet another price, that of the Adei-Wizo, the Italian Association of Jewish Women, part of the Women’s International Zionist Organization, named after Adelina Della Pergola. The only chance is to read her book, Maybe Esther, an incredible stratification of stories, and styles, written in a language learned as an adult, in a sort of proud defy to History, and to destiny.

I’ve been lucky enough to be given some extraordinary keys to the understanding of such a personality, that, together with the time spent with her in Turin, have convinced me that Katja Petrowskaja, even if maybe she will never write another book, has the capability of deeply touching everyone. Her harsh and surprising honesty has touched something: when I first asked for an interview, her answer arrived very quickly, via an e-mail which read, in between other things: “I have to warn you, that I am absolutely not Jewish, I have no idea of tradition, etc… I have moreover never belonged to any community and grew up as a ‘soviet child’. So if it is still interesting, we can talk, but I can’t pretend to be something I am not.”

We did talk, and as a result – the interview has been published in the September issue of Pagine Ebraiche and is published in this newsletter in a Spanish version – we ended up discussing at length life, the universe and, of course, her Jewish identity. But the rebellious girl is all there, and Katja Petrowskaja recently wrote me: “Zionist women of Italy decided to give me a prize, I told them that I am not a Zionist, but they really don’t care…”.