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Here’s Hoping: One Woman’s Incredible Journey of Survival Against All Odds

Michelle Kinzelberg Feder of Passaic believes fervently that if life seems to be dealing you a series of seemingly unmanageable situations, you should hold on tight as the “yeshua” is on its way. She knows well of what she speaks, as readers of her newly released memoir “Art of Hope: One Woman’s Incredible Journey of Survival Against All Odds,” written under the pseudonym Emma Harot, can readily testify. The autobiography chronicles a frightening journey through serious illness, family dysfunction and a tragic accident.

Feder is the proprietor of Twisted Gourmet Chocolate Company in Passaic, a happy venue that provides its customers with a warm and upbeat welcome in addition to sweet treats. Feder admits that her store is a “comfort” to her; it raises her spirits as she raises the spirits of those who pass through her door.

Feder created a pseudonym under which she published her memoir for a specific reason. She wanted her work to serve as an inspiration to all—those within as well as outside of the Orthodox Jewish community in which she grew up and to which she still belongs. In her words, she wanted to create a “generic God book” that would comfort all with hope for a better tomorrow. Her pseudonym is a combination of Emma for “Ima,” mother, her most cherished role in life, and Harot, “Torah” spelled backward, representing her guiding light in life. The names of her family members and children are also fictional and generic to provide the universal appeal of the memoir she sought to create.

Emma was only 20 and newly in love when she was first diagnosed with lymphoma in the chest area. Through her initial treatments, including exhausting chemotherapies, her condition was known only to her devoted parents and brother. Eventually she shared her condition with Nathaniel, her boyfriend, who announced that he would “stay by her side” throughout.

The memoir is written simply but to the point. Harot takes readers through the halcyon months of remission followed by painful and fearful months of recurrence.The story follows Harot and her husband, Nathaniel, through their Cinderella wedding followed by the devastating news that they would not be able to have biological children. Wanting desperately to be parents, they adopted a baby boy followed shortly by a baby girl, both of whom eventually were diagnosed with serious behavioral and emotional issues. Their third child, born through a surrogate mother, gave them great joy and currently is an amazing 11-year-old, who capably helps out in the store. Their fourth child, called Sam in the memoir, an angel from heaven, was tragically brain-damaged in a car accident at the age of 2. Through the intense prayers of the local communities he is mostly recovered and receiving a fine Jewish education through the SINAI Schools network. Readers of the memoir may themselves have davened for the refuah of Rafael Yoel Ozer Feder at the time of his year-long hospitalization, who was referred to as “my miracle boy” by the author.

The memoir recounts challenges to the family’s income in addition to the serious health and emotional issues they faced. Throughout, the recourse by Harot is through prayer to God and the recitation of Psalms. According to the author, “My mission in writing ‘Art of Hope’ is to teach my readers that there is a true art to dealing with misfortune and it is called emunah, strong belief in Hashem to the extent that you feel that you are not alone in combatting your misfortune and that there is comfort and solution just around the bend.”

“Art of Hope” is available for purchase through Amazon at this link: https://www.amazon.com/Art-Hope-Emma-Harot/dp/1532041020/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1533576676&sr=8-1&keywords=emma+harot.

By Pearl Markovitz

Michelle Feder is available for presentations and book signings to shuls or organizations by emailing her at [email protected] or by calling 201-888-8850. Twisted Gourmet Chocolate Factory is located at 251 Main Avenue in Passaic and is opened Sunday through Thursday from 1 p.m. through 8 p.m. and Fridays from 9:30 a.m. through 4:30 p.m.

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