Honoring the past with Joe Gold

Jan 12, 2021

When Joe Gold was young, his father, David Gold—a Holocaust survivor who built a highly successful textile business in Canada—often told him that his life could be a book, or even a movie. David sadly passed on before he could write his memoir, but Joe was determined that his father’s legacy would never be forgotten. And so, a couple of years ago, he became determined to fulfill his father’s dream.

Joe began to sift through papers, interviews, and historical records to piece together the remarkable true story of his parents’ survival through WWII. The journey that emerged, and which is brought to life in Two Pieces of Cloth (April 2021), is at once filled with horror, faith, and hope. David survives the concentration camps of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen, while his wife, Aurelia, goes into hiding with their infant son. Incredibly, they are reunited after liberation and, thanks to two pieces of cloth given to David, they are able to barter their way back to a new beginning.

Page Two is honored to be working with Joe on this project. We invite you to read on to learn more about Joe, his family, and this remarkable book.

Which three words best describe you?
Reliable, kind, honest (as described by my wife, Karyn).

What is your book about, and why did you write it?

Two PIeces of Book coverTwo Pieces of Cloth: One Family’s Story of the Holocaust tells the story of survival of both my parents, David and Aurelia Gold, together with my older brother, Andrew.

I wrote this book primarily for my family, to give them a sense of where they came from. I also felt a duty to write the story, as I had a treasure trove of information that I had put together since my teenage years, and I was afraid that all of this would one day be lost forever if I didn’t do something with it.

Who is your personal hero?
My wife, Karyn. She has the most beautiful ability to make everyone she knows and meet feel so important.

What is the last book you read?
I just completed a new memoir called Dreams Never Dreamed: A Mother’s Promise That Transformed Her Son’s Breakthrough, by Kalman Samuels. I have known Kalman most of my life as we both grew up in Vancouver and attended the same high school. I enjoyed reading the story of how Kalman founded Shalva (which means “peace of mind” in Hebrew), the Israel Association for the Care and Inclusion of Persons with Disabilities. The organization has become a world leader in the field of disability care.

Kalman, together with his wife Malki, faced insurmountable family challenges. Through their devotion to faith and perseverance, they were able to channel their journey into helping the lives of so many families.

My inspiration comes from my family: my wife, my children, and my grandchildren.

What always moves you to tears?
There are two prayers in the High Holy Day services that always bring me to tears.

The first prayer is called the SheHeheyanu and is recited in the evening service of Rosh Hashanah (the Jewish New Year). At our synagogue, B’nai Jeshrun in New York, the entire congregation place their arms around one another and gently sway back and forth as the musicians play the tune and everyone sings the blessing together.

We give thanks to G-d, ruler of time and space, for granting us life, for sustaining us, and for bringing us to this moment.

The second prayer is called Ana El Na and is recited during the concluding service of Yom Kippur (the Day of Atonement). It is part of the Selichot Service (prayers of forgiveness and confession). It is such a beautiful and moving tune that the musicians play and the chazzan (cantor) sings.

G-d, we pray:
Turn us, forgive us, pardon us,
Have mercy upon us, have compassion on us,
Grant us atonement,
Conquer sin and transgression.

Who is your favorite author?
Michael Lewis is my favorite author. I love reading his books as I always find the subject matter of interest and intriguing. He is able to keep me focused. I feel as if I am in his classroom learning and yearning to know more about the world and life.

What is your personal motto?
Don’t put off to tomorrow what you can finish today, as you never know what tomorrow may bring.

Where do you find inspiration?
My inspiration comes from my family: my wife, my children, and my grandchildren.

 A lifelong inspiration for me has always been music. Sitting at my piano, playing anything from Billy Joel and James Taylor to my made up-on the spot tunes, gives me a sense of calm and peace.

The inspiration to write my family memoir came from a poem I found in the High Holy Day prayer book. It was written by Rabbi Harold M. Schulweiss, and is titled “Backwards and Forwards”:

Looking backward, we recall our ancestry.
Looking forward, we confront our destiny.
Looking backward, we reflect on our origins.
Looking forward, we choose our path.
Remembering that we are a tree of life, not letting go,
holding on, and holding to, we walk into an unknown,
beckoning future, with our past beside us.