Monthly Archives: April 2013

Lorri M. Review: I Kiss Your Hands Many Times

ikissyourhandsmanytimes I Kiss Your Hands Many Times: Hearts, Souls and War in Hungary is a non-fictional account of a Hungarian family, spanning prewar and post World War II. It is the story of Marianne Szegedy-Maszák’s parents and other family, members, and how they went from riches to basic poverty during the most horrific of times.

Szegedy-Maszak’s father was a well off man, who was arrested and sent to Dachau. Her mother was the granddaughter of a Jewish aristocrat, a man who owned several factories. Those very factories were used as collateral in order for her mother and family members to escape death and enable them to emigrate to Portugal.

Szegedy-Maszák details with vivid word imagery and intense prose the extremes to which the Nazis went to in order to overtake Hungary.

Initially, there seemed to be a sense of denial that events were actually happening within their environment, and the family stayed, rather than emigrate. Whether through ignorance or denial regarding the entirety of the situation, the family felt they were being noble in their choice. Many individuals felt the same way during World War II, and Szegedy-Maszák’s family was not the only one with those ideals and opinions. This decision proved to be one that contributed to their eventual and negative fate.

There is a lot of compelling historical information within the pages. The data is not only relevant to the time period, the war, and the events that occurred, but data that is extremely important documentation in its own right regarding circumstances, events and social mores and stigmas prewar and postwar.

Some of the book’s details come from a series of letters written between both Szegedy-Maszak’s parents. Those letters describe the defining moments of their experiences during the Holocaust. They also describe the deep love that her parents had for each other, even during long periods of separation. Throughout all of the atrocities, their love survived, and they were eventually married in Budapest, after liberation.

I Kiss Your Hands Many Times: Hearts, Souls and War in Hungary brings the reader an intense look at the Hungarian situation during the war, and how it affected Marianne Szegedy-Maszak’s family, and their future together. It is an inspiring love story and one that depicts the face of survival under extreme odds.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Holocaust/Genocide, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Non-Fiction

Sunday Scenes April 28, 2013

fiery

Happy Lag B’Omer!

trees stairs

The best time to plant a tree is twenty years ago. The second best time is now.”

-Anonymous

Trees and plants always look like the people they live with, somehow.
-Zora Neale Hurston

hedges and stone

I have Alexander Stille’s “The Force of Things: A Marriage in War and Peace, next up to read. I read Benevolence and Betrayal, by him, a few years ago, and it is a book I own and treasure.

Visit Straight Out of the Camera Sunday, for more scenes from around the world.

April 28, 2013 – 18 Iyyar –

All rights reserved © Copyright 2007 – 2013 – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my express written consent/permission.

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Filed under Lorri's Blog, Photography, Quotations

Bridge, Benches, Links, Quotes

bridge

“Let every man praise the bridge that carries him over”
-English Proverb

benches

Each of us needs to withdraw from the cares which will not withdraw from us. We need hours of aimless wandering or spates of time sitting on park benches, observing the mysterious world of ants and the canopy of treetops.
-Maya Angelou

I reviewed Who By Fire, by Diana Spechler, this week.

I posted two photographs taken at the local lake.
~~~~~
Leora posted some beautiful photographs of magnolia blossoms and cherry blossoms.

Hannah has a delicious sounding recipe for fish stew with couscous.

Legal Victory for Women in Israel

Visit Zivah to see her thoughts on this week’s parashah.

Perfection itself is imperfection.
-Vladimir Horowitz

My imperfections and failures are as much a blessing from God as my successes and my talents and I lay them both at his feet.
-Mahatma Gandhi

A good garden may have some weeds.
-Thomas Fuller

You just have to learn not to care about the dust mites under the beds.
-Margaret Mead

Shabbat Shalom!

April 26, 2013 – 16 Iyyar – 31st Day of the Omer

All rights reserved © Copyright 2007 – 2013 – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my express written consent/permission.

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Filed under Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Photography

Lakeside and Birds

sun and lake

A lake carries you into recesses of feeling otherwise impenetrable.
~William Wordsworth

lake and birds

I have finished reading The Innocents.

I am currently reading We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust. I am also reading the novel Orphan Train.

I have slowly returned to my normal routines. I still listen to the news, or read it online, but it doesn’t take up the majority of my day. Life seems to have somewhat returned to downtown Boston, too, on the block where the tragic events occurred. I give the people of the city credit for moving forward as best as they can, and staying strong, Boston strong! My prayers are a constant.

I managed a walk at the lake. The photographs above were taken during it.

Sorry for the update…my photographs were not shown correctly.

August 25, 2013 – 15 Iyyar, 5773 – 30th day of the Omer

All rights reserved © Copyright 2007 – 2013 – All Rights Reserved – No permission is given or allowed to reuse my photography, book reviews, writings, or my poetry in any form/format without my express written consent/permission.

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Filed under Lorri's Blog, Photography, Quotations

Lorri M. Review: Who By Fire

whobyfire3 Who By Fire, by Diana Spechler, is a moving novel about a dysfunctional family, a secular Jewish family, a family trying to recover from the loss of Alena, the youngest child, who was kidnapped when she was six years old. They have not been able to move forward.

The Kellermans are still in a state of limbo, thirteen years after Alena’s kidnapping. Their alternating stories are told in the first person narratives, and this works efficiently and nicely within the novel’s structure. The family is trying to deal with their impaired emotions. Bits (Beatrice) is the oldest daughter, while Ash/Asher is the son (middle child), and Ellie is their mother. Their lives still revolve around the loss of Alena, and Who By Fire demonstrates how each family member tries to find a connection to fill the void. Their resulting actions are fanatical, and often feel as if they are swimming against the current of life in the family tapestry. Their despair is a prevalent force behind their decisions, decisions that are not always good choices.

Bits exhibits damaging behavior with her promiscuity, sleeping with total strangers. She is aware of her behavior, and doesn’t seem to want or be able to control it. She is cognizant that her relationships are fleeting. Being the older sister, she also feels a responsibility to try to salvage and rescue her brother from the grips of a yeshiva in Israel, so he can return home and attend a funeral for Alena, whose remains have been discovered. How she manages to travel to Israel is another issue, and the dynamics and justification behind it are somewhat comical, yet not morally sound. She is self-absorbed and she is on the verge of emotional ruination, due to the guilt she feels.

Ash/Asher has decided to alienate himself from Bits and his mother, by fleeing (literally) to Israel, in order to try to escape the blame he feels for Alena’s kidnapping. He is seeking forgiveness within Orthodox Judaism, and tries to find release within a yeshiva compound, and within the walls of Jerusalem. He meets a quirky young woman, who seems to have a desire for him. His concentration is often diminished, and his mind wanders regarding women and sexuality. His obsessive religious behavior creates more friction and turmoil in his life, and most of it is unexpected and self-inflicted. His feelings of self-absorption and guilt are ever present, looming ominously and constantly surrounding him.

Ellie, the mother is a character in herself, and one in which Spechler doesn’t delve as deeply into as she does with Bits and Ash. She has become the paranoid mother, always wanting to know where her adult children are, and wanting them close by. She will do anything to protect her children. She meets up with a man who she hires to find Ash and bring him back home, because of her thoughts on yeshiva life, and how she feels it is a cultist environment. She immediately seeks comfort from the man, to replace the years she has spent isolated and alone.

Judaism and affiliation is a strong theme, and we see how a secular family reacts to one member becoming a Ba’al Teshuva (BT). Bits and Ellie are judgmental in their negative response to Ash’s lifestyle. Ash is just as judgmental regarding his sister and mother, and judgmental regarding other Jewish sects. He seemingly thrives in his new and rigid environment, and can’t see beyond the borders. We are given snippets of the yeshiva life, the mores, rules and regulations of the Orthodox culture.

Who By Fire
is a book with an excellent focus on familial dysfunction, love and loss, and manipulation. It brings to the forefront the lack of honesty each character has within the family unit…each one lying to the other for their own gratification, and each one acting deceitfully as a means to an end. They often delude themselves into thinking they are doing it to protect the other family members. The result isn’t always what they expect it to be. Bits seemingly is trying to rescue Ash, but is she really trying to rescue herself from her self-hate and guilt? Ash is trying to rescue and forgive himself through redemption from guilt, by escaping to the yeshiva, is it effective? Ellie is trying to rescue her children through her manipulations, does she lose herself in the process? From Boston to Israel, and back, the characters are in a state of continual flux, fanatically and unknowingly trying to seek their own identity, their own sense of self, their own resolution to their family history.

Spechler brings us a story of dysfunction and deliverance. She has weaved a story with more than one narrator, multiple characters and a story filled with multi-layers, each layer of the tapestry important to the whole. Bits, Ash/Asher and Ellie are controlled by the past, and time has stood still. In their quest to save each other from their bondage to the past, they have strained their familial relationships even further, through their lack of communication.

For a first book, I found Who By Fire to be extremely well-written, with amazingly vivid-word images, that hold the reader’s interest. The issues of family dynamics that Spechler delves into are not unique or new ones, but ones that are found in most families, although the Kellermans are an extreme example, due to the kidnapping. Diana Spechler’s use of narration is what held my interest, and I found the alternation of the characters to be extremely effective. She gives the reader much to ponder, within the pages. Who By Fire is a book I highly recommend, not only to the Jewish community (no matter the affiliation), but also to any person who is interested in the subject of family dynamics, and the threads that bind their familial tapestries together.

April 24, 2013 – 14 Iyyar, 5773

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Filed under Book Reviews, Fiction, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Novels

Tuesday Writings

sunflow

I have not been blogging, lately. My mind was not on my blog, but rather, on Boston. I had nothing motivating to say, and needed to stay offline, re my blog.

I am not sure I am ready, yet, to blog, but I will post a short something. Nature was not part of my activities the past few days, I wasn’t motivated to walk around the lake, and my thoughts were elsewhere, and so were my eyes and ears…glued to the news for any bit of new information re Boston.

It was difficult to even read due to lack of concentration. I finally began a book, The Innocents, by Francesca Segal.

I have two library books that I managed to get the drive to check out, earlier:

We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust

Nine Suitcases

I have The Black Madonna of Derby on my Kindle.

I also have The Essays of George Eliot, on my Kindle.

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Filed under Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Photography