What the eye will see

Komesaroff, William

: An Australian immigrant story.

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Born in 1908 in Grafskoy, Russia, William Komesaroff was one of three Australian survivors of Grafskoy, (now in Ukraine) when he died in 1996. The book’s title is derived from a Yiddish expression William often used: ‘What the eye will see the mind can never comprehend.’ His son, Michael, chronicler of his father’s story and the family history, felt it reflected the unexpected life found thanks to the efforts of William’s brother Yaakov-Leib in bringing the family to Australia.

Yaakov-Leib migrated to Australia and under almost impossible circumstances managed to get the family to Melbourne in 1922. It was William’s wish that his brother’s efforts be acknowledged, and Michael has faithfully recorded his father’s account of events. From 21st century Australia we are taken back to the rich Jewish family life in Grafskoy centred around Torah, work, education, and getting enough food, in the face of appalling anti-Semitic pogroms, the struggle to escape and to settle in a new country.

The book also comprises text from other family members and material from Michael’s extensive research; he has elegantly combined them into a vivid, multi-voiced history of what has become a well-known and widely respected family in Australia. William’s innate decency, modesty and love for his family shine through and, were he to look back, he would surely say, ‘What the eye will see…’