Friday, Mar 24, 2017
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Pain aside, illness reveals author's talent

Charles Weinblatt has had a lifelong passion for writing. But it wasn't until spinal ailments forced the 57-year-old Sylvania resident to retire six years ago that he was able to pour his time and energy into writing.

"I've never been happier, even though it sounds silly for a guy who's in constant pain," said Mr. Weinblatt, who will speak at 10:30 a.m. Sunday at the Temple-Congregation Shomer Emunim in Sylvania.

His talk is part of the annual Northwest Ohio Jewish Book Fair, which runs from Sunday through Thursday and features more than a dozen authors at several Sylvania-area sites.

"I love writing," said Mr. Weinblatt, a graduate of DeVilbiss High and the University of Toledo, who created, and served as director of, the university's division of organization development and leadership.

He wrote a textbook for job-seekers in 1986, and tackled his first novel in retirement. Jacob's Courage tells the story of Jacob Silverman and Rachael Goldberg, two bright and talented teenagers from Austria who fall deeply in love in 1939 - under the ominous shadow of the Holocaust.

"My goal was to try to convey the most beautiful moments that humans can achieve and the most terrifying and horrific moments as well, and that certainly occurred during the Holocaust," he said in an interview this week.

"There's a spiritual awakening in the characters that gives them a sense of purpose - that there is a divine entity and that this divine entity has a plan for people and it was up to each individual to step up to it. My characters are not heroic; they are ordinary in every way. Yet when they are put in unthinkable circumstances, they perform extraordinary acts of courage."

A reviewer for Jewish Book World described Jacob's Courage as "ultimately a tribute to the triumphant human spirit."

The book took more than three years to research and write, including two difficult edits.

"It's not a Jewish story per se, although there's a lot of Judaism in it," Mr. Weinblatt said. "But God is God - it doesn't matter if you call God Yahweh or Allah or Jesus."

Mr. Weinblatt had known that members of his mother's extended family perished in the Holocaust, but he did not know many details until a cousin in New York sent him a package of information. After reading their stories, the book took on a new level of importance to him.

"When I found out about my relatives' experiences, my interest in the book redoubled," Mr. Weinblatt said. "I started taking it even more seriously. I felt like I needed to do this to tell their story."

Information on the Northwest Ohio Jewish Book Fair is available by calling 419-724-0365 or online at jewishtoledo.org.

Contact David Yonke at: dyonke@theblade.com or 419-724-6154.

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