It is a sad fact that American students lag far behind their peers overseas.
This video is a perfect example of what is lacking in the American educational system.
The students, through no fault of their own, are largely unaware of not just the basic facts of the Holocaust or the American involvement in World War II, but of the fact that genocide is still happening around the world today.
If our children are to compete with their counterparts across the world, something has to change.
There is an old saying “It’s always darkest before the dawn”.
Anita Diament’s 2010 novel, Day After Night is about four young women who survived the Holocaust and how they find the light after the darkness.
In October of 1945, the survivors of the Nazi Holocaust are trying to make their way to what was then British controlled Palestine. Many are interned in Atlit Internment Camp, a prison for “illegal immigrants” off the coast of Haifa. There are four main characters: Shayndel, a Polish Zionist, Leonie, who is ashamed of her choices during the war, Tedi, a Dutch Jew who was fortunate to find hiding and Zorah, who lived through the concentration camps.
Haunted by the past and afraid to hope, the women forge a friendship while they try to rebuild their lives in a strange new country that they are ready to call home.
I love this book. While the story and characters are set in a specific time and place, it speaks to all of us. We all have dark times in our life, but there is day after night. We just have to have hope and faith.
I recommend this book.
Marianne Szegedy-Maszak has an interesting story to tell.
Her memoir of her parents war time relationship, I Kiss Your Had Many Times: Heart, Souls And Wars in Hungary is one of the most fascinating and different Holocaust stories that has been published.
Her mother’s grandfather, Manfred Weiss, was a Hungarian Jewish industrialist who, in his own time, owned multiple factories. His family was known as intellectuals and artists who entertained the who’s who of their day. His children and grandchildren were assimilated Jews, several of whom converted to Catholicism. Despite the fact that most of the family were practicing Catholics, they were labeled as Jews by the Nazis. Her father, who survived Dachau, was a diplomat who worked with the Nazis before becoming a vocal Anti-Fascist.
Based up a series of letters written between her parents from 1940 to 1947, this book is a powerful and evocative family memoir in addition to being a unique addition to a very long list of Holocaust related books.
I liked this book. The author is extremely detail oriented, using the first few chapters to introduce the readers to her mother’s very large family. But the book really gets going when the war starts and and the family begins to realize that their recent conversion to Catholicism may not be enough to save them from the concentration camps and the gas chambers.
I recommend this book.
The Holocaust is such a powerful and overwhelming subject that sometimes, it seems almost impossible to make it human and real.
Gwen Edelman’s new book, The Train To Warsaw, starts 40 years after the end of World War II. Jascha and Lilka met and fell in love in the Warsaw Ghetto. Escaping the ghetto separately, they reunite in London. Four decades after the war, Jascha has become a celebrated novelist. He has been invited back to Warsaw to give a reading of his book. While Lilka is eager to go and wants to relive her childhood, Jascha refuses, for he sees no reason to return.
Lilka wins and they travel in the middle of bitterly cold December back to Warsaw. Intertwined in their intimate conversations are the memories of their lives before and during the war, the family, friends and neighbors whose lives were taken and the Poles who were eager to work with the Nazis in reaching their goals. A secret is revealed towards the end of the novel, causing the characters to wonder if they can still trust each other.
I’ve read many Holocaust books, but this book is different. It is intimate and human. Instead of dealing the very daunting subject of the Holocaust as a whole, Ms. Edelman focuses on her two main characters who have different memories of their lives in Warsaw. Lilka and Jascha’s relationship feels normal and loving, despite the hardships they have endured.
I recommend this book.
This weekend, I read David Laskin’s novel, The Family.
In short, this is one of the best books I have read in a long time.
Mr. Laskin narrates the tale of his mother’s family, starting with his great-great grand parents, Shimon Dov HaKohen and Beyle Shapiro, who lived in the shtetl of Rakov and the yeshiva center of Volozhin, which is now in Belarus.
Shimon Dov and Beyle have six children and numerous grandchildren, all choosing different paths in life. One branch of the family emigrated to the United States and became successful business owners. Another made Aaliyah to what was then Palestine and became pioneers of modern day Israel. The third stayed in Europe and became part of the martyred six million Jews murdered by the Nazis.
This book could have sounded like a history book or a boring documentary. But it doesn’t. Each member of Mr. Laskin’s family has their own voice and their own story to tell. The details are so vivid that one doesn’t have to be Jewish or have roots in Eastern Europe to be caught up in this world.
I couldn’t put it down, the book is nearly 400 pages long, but it doesn’t feel like it is 400 pages. I would highly recommend this book to anyone who would like to read a good book.