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Here are the children who survived; the branches of the Tree of Life that were not cut off. Here are the eyes through which we will see the triumph and tragedy of a century that saw empires turn to dust, idealism turn to despair and hope reborn; a century which began on horse-drawn wagons and ended on the moon. And, though our characters will be fictionalized, the history through which they move will be real.

Here's the scene:

“I hate you fucking Jews,” says Dmitri Kolisnychenko, the quintessential red-faced, brown-toothed thug gendarme in the nightmare of every Jewish child in the Russian Pale of Settlement in 1906. “I hate the way you bow and scrape and say ‘Your Honor.” You’re like sewer rats, all of you, creeping out of the shit and the darkness, thinking we honest folk won’t be able to see you for who you are… “

He is addressing a prosperous Jew, named Meyer Levy, on what is to be a joyous occasion; his daughter’s wedding day. Meyer Levy has ten children, and this day has been marred because his eighteen-year-old brawler of a son, Moshe Levy, beat up a Russian who spit on him and called his mother a whore. And now, Reb Meyer is trying to buy his son’s freedom from the gendarme who would just as soon kill him and his whole family.

“I hate you,” says the gendarme, “because nothing about you is like us. And I hate you even more for trying to be like us. No matter what we do, you’re like a cockroach that won’t be killed. I hate you because you’re capitalists, and I hate you because you’re communists. I hate you, because you’re one masquerading as the other, and both at the same time. You’re Satan’s child, the Devil’s own brother. So, you filthy Yid. I have your son. Now, what do you have to say about that?”

To which Reb Meyer replies the only thing a Jew in his position can possibly reply.

“How much? What’s the price for my son’s freedom?”

A number will be agreed upon, as it always is, and Moshe Levy will be ransomed by his father. He will berate the youth and say, “Have you forgotten what it takes for a Jew to survive in this world?”

 And the defiant boy will reply, “I intend to do more than survive.”

Anti-Semitism was endemic in both Western and Eastern Europe throughout the 19th and 20th centuries. The Jews due to their otherness had been marginalized and only the protection of the State allowed them to survive. Beholden to rulers, they ended up being the tax collectors, real estate agents, cattle sale middlemen and other hated roles and always standing between. None of our four protagonists wanted to stand there alone. All four fought for a chance at love and meaning and this is their story.

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Moshe "Morris" Levy

Bodyguard and General to Chinese Nationalist Army

Two-Gun Levy was a real person named Morris Cohen and given the nickname "2-Gun" because he always carried two guns. He protected both Dr. Sun Yat-Sen and Chiang Kai-Shek from 1911 until his death in the 1950s.

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Pinchas Levy

Poet and Warrior

Pinchas Levy participated in a love battle that became the talk of Ottoman Palestine. He fought with the Jewish Legion in WWI and then settled down at one of the first Kibbutzim.

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Dovid "Davey Boy" Levy

Head of the Freedman Gang and Mobster

David Levy joined one of the lower East side New York City gangs and eventually became head of one of the most notorious mobs in the US.

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Leah Levy

Bolshevik revolutionary

Leah Levy was a member of the wealthy and influential Polyakov family who became disillusioned and radicalized. She joined the Bolsheviks and through much suffering remained a member of the Communist party until her death in the late 1950s.