Monthly Archives: March 2014

Lorri M. Review: Mourning & Mitzvah

mourningandmitzvah Mourning &Mitzvah: A Guided Journal for Walking the Mourner’s Path Through Grief to Healing, by Anne Brener is educational, insightful in its representation of the Jewish mourning process, and an excellent learning tool.

It directs the mourner through the grieving process by instructing and guiding them how to keep a diary or journal. By answering questions within the diary or journal, performing meaningful rituals, meditation, etc., the person is thereby enabled to begin working through their grief, a step at a time. The one who is mourning the loss of a loved one can begin to work through their pain and loss, and learn to try to cope with the struggles of daily life, while beginning to confront their pain.

There is no time limit on grief and mourning, as it is a personal process and an emotional process. But, Mourning & Mitzvah is an extremely helpful book in its aspects to bring understanding to those who grieve. It is also helpful for friends and family members to read, in order for them to begin to understand what their loved one is going through, during the traumatic period of a death in their life. They, too, are grieving, and so the input within the pages could be helpful for them.

Whether you are Jewish or not, religious or not, have a spiritual belief or not, the life lessons and the steps that Brener shows us towards coping with the loss of a loved one, is a journey we shouldn’t deprive ourselves of.

Death isn’t just a situation for the deceased or dying, but it is a family issue, for all family members. From mourning, understanding and grieving, Mourning and Mitzvah: A Guided Journal for Walking the Mourner’s Path Through Grief to Healing, by Anne Brener, is a book that belongs on every book shelf, as it is thoroughly educational, gently written, insightful, and is inspirational for all readers.

I find myself referring back to this sensitively written book throughout the year.

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Filed under Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Non-Fiction

Lorri M. Review: Rutka’s Notebook: A Voice From the Holocaust

rutkasnotebook Rutka’s Notebook, A Voice From the Holocaust, by Rutka Laskier, is a personal accounting, taken from the diary of Rutka Laskier, a Polish teenager. She wrote her diary beginning at the age of 14, and it spans approximately three months of her life, beginning January 19, 1943.

Rutka describes, in depth, her fluctuating emotions during the time period, and her diary reflects the ups and downs, the roller coaster of emotions, that most teenagers feel. From typical feelings of love and jealousy, to familial discontent, to the German occupation, Rutka defines life during the Holocaust through her eyes and voice. Yet, those emotions and her thoughts are coupled with the fact that she is astutely aware of the what is occurring, of Holocaust and its ramifications to humanity. Rutka’s writing gives voice and witness to the realities of the Holocaust.

Rutka wrote her thoughts and emotions in her diary, and asked her non-Jewish friend, Stanislawa Sapinska, to save it, if and when, Rutka and her family were moved from their apartment in Bedzin to the Ghetto, or if they were deported. There was a predetermined hiding spot. After the war ended, Sapinska returned to the apartment, and located the diary. She held on to it for sixty years. Sapinska’s family convinced her to show its existence, reinforcing to her that it was a part of history, and told about a part of history, that should be shared with the world.

Rutka articulates her thoughts and emotions like that of a more mature person, and not that of a young teenager. She is aware of the consequences that could occur. She knows about the brutality of war, having witnessed some horrors within the confines of daily living.

I recommend this historical book to everyone, young or old, alike. Rutka’s Notebook: A Voice From the Holocaust is an amazing accounting of daily life, of the struggles and fears lived every hour of each day, and of the knowledge that one may not live to see the end of war. It is a testament to Rutka Laskier’s strength and willpower, that she had the foresight to want her diary preserved for the world to see. She wanted the truth to be told (even if it was told decades after the fact).


Rutka’s Notebook: A Voice From the Holocaust
should be on a bookshelf in every school classroom, not only for its extreme historical value, but also so that Rutka Laskier’s life will not be forgotten in the time continuum.

The introduction was written by Rutka Laskier’s half-sister, Zahava (Laskier) Scherz. A family biography at the end of the diary, itself, was also written by Scherz.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Memoirs, Non-Fiction