Letters From Rifka

Written By: Karen Hesse

Presentation Made By: Heather Hellweg


Rifka is a Jewish girl who is fleeing Russia. This is Rifka's story is about her journey to America.

Big image


Russia was going through a revolution.

  • The czar was overthrown
  • By 1919 Russia was in a four year Civil War
  • Both sides drafted young men to fight for them
  • There was violence and poverty

Much hate and persecution was blamed on the Jewish people.

  • This caused many people to leave, not just the Jews.

Rifka's Struggles (Plot)

Rifka leaves on a train

  • Some of the family is left behind, including her cousin Tovah (who the letters are written to.)

Rifka becomes ill with typhus

  • Then the rest of her family, except Saul, became sick too.
  • Rifka is then left alone for most of the day while Saul is working.

Rifka's Family

  • Rifka finds her mom's hospital bed. During the day Rifka sits with her and holds her hand.

Finally everyone in the family heals and are ready to resume their journey.
Big image

Diverging paths

  • Before the family can get on the boat they must be inspected by a doctor. The doctors find that Rifka has ringworm on her head.
  • They talk to a lady from the HIAS and decide that Rifka will stay while the rest of the family travels to America.

Ringworm is a contagious itching skin disease caused by fungi (dictionary.com). For Rifka it caused her hair to fall out.

Big image

Stranded at sea

After the ringworm heals Rifka can go to America. The ship is wrecked in a sea storm. During the storm Rifka's friend, Pieter, is tossed overboard. In order to make it to America the boat must wait for help to get towed.
Big image
After the long boat ride across the sea Rifka sees the Statue of Liberty.

Rifka and Ilya become friends

They met during a meal at the hospital. Ilya didn't have food on his plate, then Rifka scooped some on his plate. After that Ilya was always by Rifka.
Many people thought Ilya was a simpleton, but Rifka knew otherwise. She practiced with him so that he could read from the Pushkin she had.

The Last Part of the Journey

  • Finally it came time for the doctors to decide whether Ilya and Rifka could stay in America or not.
  • Rifka proved to everyone that Ilya was not simpleton by having him read to the doctors.
  • The doctors realized that Rifka would do well in America with or without hair.

Rifka returns to her family and her hair grows back!

How Rifka Changed

Throughout Rifka's letters to Tovah she comments that she wants to be clever, not just rely on her looks. Over the year I think that Rifka learns how to be clever. While the way she writes her letters reflects this the event that proves this is when she helps Ilya make it into America. Rifka is clever enough to know that Ilya can read and make him read infront of the doctor.