A prolific and well-loved author, Molly Cone has penned numerous children’s and young adults’ books, travel articles, educational materials, and a history of the Jews in Washington State. Born in Tacoma to Latvian emigrants, Molly grew up in a close-knit family steeped in Jewish traditions. Married in 1939 to Gerald Cone, they moved to Seattle where they raised three children and became founding members of Temple Beth Am, a reform synagogue in Northeast Seattle. They are enthusiastic travelers. As a writer, Molly’s narrative often focuses on human communication-how both talking and silence organize the ways we think about the world and each other.
“When I’m looking for something, an idea, I just completely lose myself. I mean, I’m completely enthralled by it. That’s one of the really wonderful things about being a writer. When you are sitting at the word processor, or typewriter or even with a pencil, and you’re writing, you are completely taken up by it. What you’re working on completely transports you.”
“I remember asking my mother about falling in love. ‘How do you know when you’re really in love?’ I asked her, ‘How do you know?’ And she just looked at me and said, ‘You'll know.’ She was right. When I met Jerry I knew. I wanted all these explanations of what love is and all she says is, ‘You'll know...’ She was a happy person and a beautiful mother, very wise.”
“I’d like to pick up on my talking about feeling different because I was Jewish. The first time I went to Israel was in 1965 with a friend. I loved Israel. What impressed me most was the lack of restraint I felt surrounded by other Jews. I had never before realized how careful I was in meeting strangers and talking to them or that I was always thinking, ‘I’m Jewish and they’re not.’ In Israel, for the first time, I recognized what it was like being a Jew among Jews. Though I never felt any overt antisemitism of any kind all my growing up, yet that uneasiness of being a little different than everybody else was very strong. I never discussed this with anybody. But in Israel, I felt this wonderful freedom in talking to someone on a bus or wherever I went.
“I don’t remember any real talk of what was happening in Germany at all before World War II. And maybe it’s because I was just a teenager then, but I don’t think there was a good deal of talk at that time. I think people didn’t realize what was happening and when they did hear, the first thing they said was, ‘Well, that’s impossible.’ After the War, of the hundreds of survivors who landed in the Seattle area, very few would even talk about it. There were years of silence. I think almost 20 years passed before we started hearing the real stories from people who had suffered them. One must say, the Holocaust and the creation of the State of Israel were the most powerful things that happened in our whole lives. I think it’s hard for the younger generations now to realize how important that was.”
© 2004 Jewish Women’s Archive. Photographs by Joan Roth.