Good News Thursday!

May 12, 2011

Hi Incredible Readers! I have a treat for you today!

I’m not usually a boaster, but today I’m going to brag. My friend Linda has done something remarkable. Something I dream of doing but lack the organization and the courage to do so. Linda, who blogs at Barmitzvahzilla, has written a memoir.  And it’s out! You can actually purchase the thing!

But you know what’s even better news?  I bought two copies of Linda’s book. One for myself, and one for a very lucky reader.

I’ve already started reading my copy, and I can truly say that I’m captivated. I adore Linda’s writing style; every page is laced with honesty, insight, and wit. And although her story is somber at times–she’s the daughter of two Holocaust survivors–her voice jumps off the page and grabs you.  It’s a voice both irreverent and touching; I found myself laughing and crying at the same time.  Her memoir is an honest look into her upbringing (as one of seven girls!), loss of faith, and search to find meaning again.

I’ve included an excerpt from Linda’s book, for your reading pleasure.  If you’ll leave a comment for me, you’ll be entered to win your own copy of Linda’s book, Looking Up: A Memoir of Sisters, Survival, and Skokie. But even if you don’t win, y’all should get the book. It’s genius.

Please give Linda a warm welcome, and hey, Linda–congrats, my friend.  I feel honored to know you.

~excerpted from Looking Up: A Memoir of Sisters, Survivors and Skokie

Breaking Bread

My mother always starts with the pig’s head. Whenever she tries to cajole me into eating, she drags out her two most miserable food stories from the Holocaust, when she lived in the forest, starving and running from the Nazis. The first one is about the pig’s head.

One day during her two years in the forest, the Partisans slaughtered a pig and gave her family the head to eat. They were thrilled.

“A pig’s head?  To eat?”  I look at her like she’s joking. If someone handed me a pig’s head I’d have nightmares about it for the rest of my life.

She nods. “It was delicious. I’ll never forget it.”

I still don’t believe her. Because I’m ten and my job is to doubt everything she says, I give her a skeptical look and say, “Weren’t you kosher?”  Like I have to remind her that her family was kosher so maybe she can come up with a more believable story to get me to eat.

“Not during the war we weren’t!”

She’s a little jubilant at this point in the conversation since she’s conveying one of her core truths to me: that food is anything that doesn’t eat you first, a truth she learned at eleven that stayed with her always. But there’s also a little criticism here, of the idea that being kosher matters at all, and astonishment towards my grandparents for becoming kosher again after the war. Like once you eat a pig’s head, there’s no going back.

I try to imagine my mother, my uncle, and my aunt – all children at the time – and my grandparents, carrying around the decapitated head of a pig; and not just as food but as precious, coveted food. Not surprisingly, this image doesn’t make me hungry. It has the opposite effect. I feel ill, like maybe I’ll never eat again.

The other story my mother tells me about food is told every time she sees me trim the crusts off slices of bread. As I slice them off she looks on in horror at the horrible waste.

And then I get to hear the Crust Of Bread Story.

She says, “In the forest, one time I had to survive a whole week on a crust of bread, just like that one. A whole week I nibbled at it slowly, crumb by crumb, sitting in my pocket. It got cold and hard and tinier every day, yet still I was so happy to have that tiny crust of bread. And there you are, just throwing it away!”

She is incredulous. What’s more, each time she sees me do it she’s incredulous again like she never saw me do it before. Sometimes she grabs the crusts before I can throw them out, saving them to eat later.

I don’t know what to say to this. I never have an adequate response because no matter how much she had starved and no matter how long she had nibbled on that crust of bread in the forest, I still don’t want to eat the crust. Born in the United States, a second-generation child of Holocaust survivors, I cut off those crusts anyway.

{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Zebra Zoologist July 16, 2012 at 5:58 pm

nice page you should write a weekly newsletter :)


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