Category Archives: Non-Fiction

Reading, Reading, and Reading

I have read four books within the past several days. I normally read two or three books at one time, going back and forth between each book.

The Memory Monster, by Yishai Sarid, Yardenne Greenspan (Translator), is one that is quite intense, and, in my opinion, dark, melancholic, and an unusual introspection of the Holocaust, illuminated through the eyes of the narrator, a ‘tourist guide’, of Holocaust camps, woods, etc.

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The Yellow Bird Sings, by Jennifer Rosner, is a novel that is full of heartbreaking situations, love and war, loss and redemption, during the Holocaust.

It depicts the strong bond between mother and daughter, and how they manage to survive in a world of horror. Their determination to forge through the appalling situations, and their separation, is excellently woven within the tapestry of their experiences.

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Still Alive: A Holocaust Girlhood Remembered, by Ruth Kluger, is a compelling read that relates her experiences during the Holocaust.

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I am also reading, and will be rereading, The Book of Psalms, by King David

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Copyright Lorri M.

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Lights in Various Forms

Hanukkah has ended, the bright candle lights on the menorah are no more, for another year. But, that does not mean that the lights from within my soul have disappeared, or diminished, in any aspect.

Like barren branches of winter, or golden-like grasses, the inner lights of my psyche continue to illuminate not only from within, but externally, as well. My spiritual journey is continual, despite my decades of life. Each day brings new moments of learning, and moments of awe.

The image above might look simplistic, plain, or ordinary to some eyes. But, to me it is beautiful. Nature always brings wonderment to my eyes. The two, separated tree trunks, within the branches in the background, and even the foreground, spoke to me on several levels. Their winter appearance reminds me that spring will enfold nature’s growth rebirth. Nature gently whispers to me that we must enjoy the scenes before us, as every moment counts, and every moment holds lessons.

Positivities aren’t always the lessons we receive. Yet, even the negative moments, actions, interactions, and reflections, are learning experiences that we shouldn’t dismiss.

Speaking of nature, I just downloaded an ebook to my Kindle, from my library: The Naturalist: Theodore Roosevelt, A Lifetime of Exploration, and the Triumph of American History. I will begin reading it later on, today. I enjoy honoring Shabbat by reading books regarding nature, life, history. Those books offer me insight into the natural order of things, and fill me with spiritual awareness and wonder of our planetary structure and beauty.

Hanukkah has ended, but on Shabbat, new lights shine. Shabbat Shalom to those who celebrate.

Copyright Lorri M.

      

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Book Awards Finalists

The 2020 National Book Awards Finalists have been announced!

Why not take a look at the list of finalists in the various categories!

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Review: We Were Europeans

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We Were Europeans: A Personal History of a Turbulent Century, by Werner M. Loval, is book that portrays an incredible, personal, family/ancestral journey, both before World War II, and post war.

Loval came from a respected, well off, German-Jewish family, and before the war they were treated with dignity within their community. That all ended beginning on January 30,1933, when Hitler was sworn in as Chancellor of Germany. From that point forward, Loval’s story takes on dimensions that are precarious and horrendous, as he and his family fight to survive.

He and his sister eventually became part of the Kindertransport to England, while his parents eventually were able to escape to Ecuador, via Siberia and Japan, where the entire family was reunited. The family emigrated to America after the war. Loval eventually emigrated to Israel and played an intricate and highly professional role within the Diplomatic Service for the State of Israel. His religious foundations were strong, and he was involved in the Reform Jewish movement, and played a high profile role within it.

To say I am impressed with the format would be an understatement. I am in awe of We Were Europeans and the way Loval presents it to us. He infuses the pages with incredible documentation, amazing photographs, documents and maps, that enhance the pages of this compelling memoir, adding more drama to the presented depictions of the turbulence. From personal reflections and stories, the pages hold eye witness accounts to history as it happens, through Loval’s writing and presentation of supported evidence and documents.

Loval’s endeavors and arduous research has brought the reader into the depths of the Nazi turbulence, adversity and shocking horrors that overtook Europe during Hitler’s reign. First-hand accounts abound, and Loval leaves nothing to the imagination through his stark imagery. From correspondence to diaries during the haunting war years and afterwards, to diaries and letters during the Six Day War and so much more, the reader is painted vivid pictures of family inspiration during time of crisis. The post war events are just as compelling and intensely stated, as Loval involves himself in trying to get restitution for property owned by his family.

Loval and his family lived their lives to the fullest with a positive attitude, no matter the extreme harshness of their circumstances, no matter how far spread, at varied points in time, the family separation was across the global perspective. The illuminating photographs, documents and word-paintings are incredible testimonies to eras gone by, to familial bonds, to the determination and strength to persevere and survive, both during and after World War II.

We Were Europeans is a book of extreme importance and historical value for historians, for researchers, genealogists, for those who are interested in the Holocaust and World War II, and for those individuals, in general, who want to learn more about the turbulent times depicted within the pages. The intensity of the memoir is beyond imagination and comprehension. It is a powerful statement and testimony, not only to the decades, events and circumstances depicted, but to the Loval family unit. Their story is extremely inspiring, and I highly recommend We Were Europeans, by Werner M. Loval to everyone.

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Review, Copyright Lorri M.

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Filed under Book Reviews, Holocaust/Genocide, Immigrant Experience, Jewish History, Judaism, Lorri's Blog, Non-Fiction, Uncategorized, World History, World War II, Writings

Along the Way

I find contentment wandering through gardens, and looking at various scenes. They don’t have to be dramatic. I prefer the more simplistic views.

I enjoy nature’s textures, lines, colors, and contrasts.

I like the bark on trees, and how they remind me of humans. Yes, humans. As we age our skin becomes filled with spots, some areas of toughness, wrinkles, and pigment discoloration.

We aren’t so far off from the exteriors of trees, as we might think.

Benches, give me a bench! I like benches! They offer me solace in a world of chaos, noise, and discontent. I can sit and meditate within the confines of nature. I can listen to the birds singing, squawking, and can watch them flit about.

There is something to be said for benches, and I find them appealing, even if they are old, scratched in spots, made of metal/steel, wood, or even made of concrete.

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Now to move on to books, one of my favorite subjects.

I read The Mirador: Dreamed Memories of Irene Nemirovsky, by her Daughter. I found it heartfelt, bittersweet, and heartbreaking. I have read all of Nemirovsky’s books that have been translated into English.

I have not been disappointed in any of them. I do find it remarkable, when I think about her work, how she portrays Jews in her novels. She was Jewish. To say that it isn’t pretty would be putting it mildly. She often writes about Jewish characters with a tone of hatred. There is no sugar coating the Jews within her works.

But, I have strayed from the story, the idea that her daughter, who knew her physically, for such a short period of time, dreams of what it would have been like to have Nemirovsky in her life. The melancholy within the pages, speaks rivers of emotional flow.

I finished reading The Lions of Fifth Avenue. It was okay, in my opinion. The historical factors regarding the New York City Public Library were excellent, and well researched. If I were to rate it, I would give it three stars out of five stars.

I am in the process of reading The Madonna of the Mountains. It is a novel based in Italy, during the Second World War.

That is it for now. Thank you for stopping by.

-Lorri M.

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Memory, Patriotism

1948, a Novel, by Yoram Kaniuk is an a masterful book, and in my opinion a testament to memory, and Kaniuk’s way of honoring memory, if that makes sense.

There is so much to ponder, within the pages of 1948. It is a coming of age story, as seen through the eyes of the older self, not necessarily meaning that one comes of age early in life.

Memory is an important facet in our lives, and Yoram Kaniuk’s descriptives are filled with strong clarity, at times shocking, and filled with the realities of war’s horrors.  War is not a game, not a road to identity, and definitely not the idealist perspective, or the romantic perceptions, of the actualities that occurred.

Without memory, the past would be erased, even if our memories are enhanced through time.  Yoram Kaniuk brings a haunting, emotional story line to 1948, seen through his eyes, and the eyes of those whose memories are incorporated into his life’s journey

I recommend this novel, for its defining depictions of war, and its affects, and effects on memory.

What Unites Us:  Reflections On Patriotism, by Dan Rather and Elliot Kirschner is an incredible book.  There are so many levels to it, that would make my review of it long winded, and possibly boring, so I will try to keep it as brief as possible.

One thing I have learned is that Rather is such a humble man, a sincere man.  His authentic self is revealed within the pages.  His childhood, and his upbringing played a crucial part in his development, and how he viewed/views the world.  His honesty is astounding, leaving no thought or emotion behind.  What I read, in my opinion, is the essence of him.

I have had a deep respect for him for many decades, and this beautifully written book emphasizes my reasons for feeling that way.

The book is amazing. There is talk about Civil Rights and the initial movements.  How the movement affected the nation, and its effects upon the nation is clearly stated, with both empathy and truth.  He speaks truth to power, regarding Black oppression, and how the suffering and demoralization determined his standing, his moral standing on Black lives.

Voter suppression is a defining issue, as is war, diversity, and also issues regarding U.S. presidents and how they have altered the journey of America.  He details his feelings and ideas on their responsibility to our nation.

Rather discusses his life after college, and his beginnings in journalism, and how he saw happenings through his young eyes, yet managed to stay true to himself and his ideals, due to his background, and his parents views on life.

There is so much to offer within the pages, such as thoughts on community and responsibility, protesting, humankind, religion, etc.  It is a masterful book, and one that made me feel comfortable with what he conveyed. He is most definitely not racist, antisemitic, or against any religion or ethnicity, and is all for humanity and individuals coming together as one community, one whole.  He is aware that is not necessarily feasible, especially in today’s environment, and relates it to his own journey in life, seeing, and learning, what he did, and how things haven’t actually changed in many respects.  That, in itself, the fact that certain elements  haven’t really changed regarding violence, discrimination, ethnic and racial hatred, etc., brought many thoughts and feelings to my mind.

Dan Rather’s love of country and the almost 300-year experiment of our democracy, and the humanity within those years, has formed him, immensely, into the patriot he is.  After reading the book, the definition of ‘patriot’ belongs to him, most definitely.

I highly recommend What Unites Us:  Reflections on Patriotism.  The words within the pages brought a certain degree of comfort and hope to me.  His humaneness is astounding.

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