Not Me is a novel that brings new meaning to teshuva or self-transformation, both conceptually and in reality. Not Me describes the life of Heschel Rosenheim, a Jew who survived the Holocaust and dedicated his life to rebuilding Judaism and the State of Israel. In the last few months of his life as he suffers from dementia, Heschel’s son discovers his father’s journals. These journals reveal that Heschel was perhaps not really a Jew, but a Nazi who pretended to be a Jew after the war, to save his own life. As Heschel’s son grapples with whether the stories he reads in the journals are fact or fiction, he also grapples with who his father truly is, as the father he has known his whole life is a truly devout Jew. Can a person become someone new, even opposite of what they were?
This book invites us all to think about who we are at the core – by birth and by our own admission and reinforcement. It can be read simply as an engrossing novel or as a catalyst for true soul searching. As I read through the novel, I thought often about what it would take to open my heart to something or someone who I once despised. I also grappled with who I am at the core of my being vs. who I am by circumstance, and frankly, whether it makes a difference! For someone who doesn’t read a lot of fiction, I truly enjoyed this book.