Saving What Remains: A Holocaust Survivor’s Journey Home to Reclaim Her Ancestry, by Livia Bitton-Jackson, is quite the thought-provoking memoir, leaving one to wonder what they would do with the same set of circumstances. To what extremes would you go to bury your ancestors near you? Would any of us have the strength and courage to undertake what Bitton-Jackson did?
This book is as much a tribute to Bitton-Jackson’s strength, fortitude and determination, as it is to her ancestors. Imagine…returning to a time when there was an “Iron Curtain”, and then within your journey…imagine…trying to unearth your family members’ remains and bring them to Israel, for burial…so an entire family, both living and deceased, can be together.
Saving What remains, by Bitton-Jackson is more than a memoir, more than a story of journeying back to one’s homeland. It is a story of a courageous sojourn to what once was, what no longer is. It is a story of memories that were in specific settings of time and place, and memories that no longer match the current scenes. It was an intriguing page-turner for me, reading it straight through, more than once. I had to know the ending.
Love and loss illuminate throughout the pages. Jewish life and death are ever present within the story line. The scent of homeland and culture are strong in this beautifully and vividly written account of Livia Bitton-Jackson’s journey. But, primarily, it is a story of the necessity for the remembrance and honoring of our ancestors, no matter their roots.
If we don’t remember, pay tribute and honor them, who will?!
I highly recommend Saving What Remains: A Holocaust Survivor’s Journey Home to Reclaim Her Ancestry to everyone, and feel it belongs in every private and public library. It is an important historical memoir, reflecting on not only Jewish life and loss, ancestral remembrance, but social change and upheaval as well. It is a story, that once you begin, is difficult to put down. The odds were against success, and the story is incredible and extremely inspiring. It is one that is not readily let go of, after the reader finishes the last page. I certainly haven’t having read it three times.
February 9, 2012 – 16 Sh’vat, 5772