We were delighted that our book was selected to be featured at the Ann Arbor Jewish Book Festival. When we learned that of all the featured juried books, the Department of Judaic Studies at Eastern Michigan University chose ours to be the one they sponsored, we felt even more honored. Our delight continued November 15, the evening of our scheduled presentation. The cold and rainy weather did not hamper a great turnout. A crowd of close to forty individuals came to Third Mind Books, filling its floor space to capacity. The presentation by Julie Ellis, Nancy Szabo and Phil Barr resulted in so many questions that the event went well past closing time. The owner of Third Mind Books was so moved by the authors stories that he felt compelled to come up to the podium and express how meaningful he found this presentation. He described the impact that the Holocaust had for him growing up despite not being a second-generation descendent. We were very grateful to see that several audience members had previously been to our speaking events. They shared that they wanted to hear more stories from our book and buy additional copies as gifts. Thank you to all our supporters.
Photo Credit Elli Gurfinkel
Rita Benn, a co-editor and contributing author, offers a snapshot of our book in a promotional interview for the Metro Detroit Jewish Book Fair. You can listen to the 10-minute interview here. She and Julie Ellis, also a co-editor and contributing author, discussed their book at the Metro Detroit JCC "Schmooze" open house in West Bloomfield on Sunday, November 13.
Several of our authors - Rita Benn, Avishay Hayut, Natalie Iglewicz, and Ruth Wade, attended the 32nd annual conference of the WFJSHD for the first time in St. Louis. We were delighted to share information about our book, learn about new resources, have deep conversations, and discover so many serendipitous connections - from those related to the University of Michigan, our birth cities, and histories of our parents' wartime experiences. In addition to our panel presentation, Ruth and Rita also offered a workshop on the legacy of writing about the 2G experience. With multiple sessions to choose from, they found that over 1/4 of the conference attended their program. With guided writing prompts, and facilitated opportunities to reflect and share, many participants indicated that they had overcome writing blocks that they had been experiencing for years. Our authors were so very grateful to Charley Silow for inviting us to be a part of this wonderful experience.
On November 4, 30 seventh and eighth graders from a private school in Atlanta sat glued to their seats listening to their teacher, Andrea Sarvady, interview Nancy Szabo, one of the authors in our book. The students who were of mixed religious backgrounds had been studying about the Holocaust, preparing for their future performance of a play, “I Never Saw Another Butterfly’. Students' hands shot up like popcorn after the interview. Nancy was struck by the depth and sensitivity of the questions. “Looking back, when did you first see any signs of trauma in your father? Do you think our parents should let us know about painful events in their lives?” Nancy described to the class how she wished she had asked her father more questions about his experiences in Hungary when he was alive. She encouraged the students to explore the life stories of their parents and grandparents. This school event validated what the authors have heard Irene Butter, a Holocaust survivor, author and friend, say to us about the importance of sharing our perspective of the impact of the Holocaust trauma with the younger generation - that students as early as middle school age are not only ready and eager to learn but can benefit from our intergenerational lens.
We were delighted that the University of Michigan Osher Life-long Learning Institute (UM OLLI) selected "The Ones Who Remember: Second-Generation Voices of the Holocaust" as the selection for their Fall Community Read. On November 4, a panel of four contributing authors to this anthology - Sassa Akervall, Rita Benn, Joy Wolfe Ensor and Simone Yehuda, discussed some of the experiences depicted in their book to a sold-out audience. The panel was moderated by Marjorie Oliver who gave the following remarks: "I had no holocaust survivors in my family, I am a true WASP, so I found this collection to be deeply personal, deeply profound, ofttimes incredibly well-written and very moving. At this time in the world in which we live, we need to be reminded that 'all people are our kin' and of the power of hatred and necessity of confronting it." A recording of this panel presentation has been made available to view through the UM OLLI catalog.
Three of our authors were invited to present a session during a one-day conference of Jewish learning sponsored by the Detroit affiliate of LIMMUD. Rita Benn, Avishay Hayut and Natalie Iglewicz read moving excerpts from their stories and responded to audience questions. Among the audience participants was a second-generation descendent of the Holocaust from the Detroit area. She remarked how much aspects of our experiences resonated with her childhood and expressed her appreciation of the gift that this book now offered her: no longer feeling as alone and different from others.
“As I learned more about my parents’ past, it’s understandable that I also grew up worrying a lot, mainly about disasters happening," recounted Julie Ellis, reading an excerpt from her chapter from our book. She, along with two other contributing authors, Eszter Gombosi and Cilla Tomas, shared a few moving vignettes about what they learned about their’ parents’ wartime history and its impact on them to a riveted audience at the Dexter District Library on October 18, 2022.
On October 12, the Florida Holocaust Museum hosted a panel presentation about our book. Ruth Finkel Wade was joined by Rita Benn in person and Joy Wolfe Ensor by Zoom. Over 45 people pre-registered for the event and a few more than this number attended. After our book introduction and excerpted readings, Erin Blankenship, the interim Executive Director, jumpstarted the Q & A with a few thoughtful questions, for example: "Did any of the authors have memoir writing experience or plans to write individual memoirs after this anthology? What are the commonalities that we see in the second generation experience? What is the one takeaway that we each hope people will walk away with after reading our book? These questions and our responses so engaged the audience that the questions kept coming one after another and we went past the projected time frame to end. You may listen to a recording of this presentation.
Ruth and Rita were delighted to sign additional books and to meet so many people of different ages who were deeply moved by our stories. They were particularly thrilled to see so many 2Gs in the audience and to find additional Ann Arbor roots in our audience - a former University of Michigan alumna who attended the university in the 1950's. It is indeed a small world!
What brings people out to listen to our book talks? Nancy Szabo and Natalie Iglewicz began their panel presentation at Tamarack District Library in Lakeview Michigan on October 11 with this very question. For some attendees, it was a keen interest in world history. For others, there was a personal connection - a relative who served in the army liberated Bergan-Belsen, one of the many concentration camps. Still for others, it was the desire to learn more from the Second Generation and gain insight into how to stand up to Holocaust denial and prevent future discrimination of this proportion from ever happening again. We are grateful for the engagement of the audience in listening to our stories and feel affirmed of the wide appeal and impact that our book can have.
"Every survivor has stories of incredible luck regarding their escape from death,” says Rita Benn, the daughter of two Holocaust survivors, to Cynthia Reynolds, a reporter who interviewed her for an article in the Ann Arbor Observer. "As amazed as I have been by the horrors my parents endured, I have been equally astounded by the miracles that enabled their survival—the extraordinary acts of courage, devotion, and resilience.” In the book The Ones Who Remember: Second-Generation Voices of the Holocaust, Rita Benn and her 15 co-authors describe the impact of growing up with both the known and unknown stories of their parents' Holocaust experience. One of Rita's recollections of unexpected grace particularly moved this reporter. Read the article Family Secrets published in the October issue to find out! Hope this encourages you to buy our book or invite us to your book club or organization to share our stories.