Aisik Fogel wants his children to thrive and be happy, but his family’s simple way of life in a Russian shtetl is threatened by violent attacks fueled by anti-Semitism. They live under restrictions of poverty and lack of opportunity. Aisik’s young daughter, Channa, has never been in a classroom, but aspires to be a teacher. Aisik believes he can rescue his family by moving them to America.

Adjusting to school and a new way of life in New York City, Hanna Fogel wants to help her father rediscover the joy and pride he’s lost since uprooting from the only home he’s ever known. Set at the turn of the twentieth century, when hundreds of thousands of Jews made a mass exodus from Eastern Europe to the United States, Wretched Refuse explores the love between a father and daughter, and their efforts to save one another.