Monday, December 30, 2013

The Magnificent Synagogue of Sofia, Bulgaria

The Central Synagogue of Sofia is the pride of Bulgarian Jewry and the only Jewish house of worship in the Bulgarian capital. Jewish life in Sofia, home to some 2,000 Jews out of the country's 6,000, centers around the synagogue. During the two years my wife and I lived in Sofia we visited the synagogue many times.

On September 9, 2009, a ceremony was held at the Sofia Synagogue marking the 100th year anniversary of the building's dedication in 1909 by Bulgarian Tzar Ferdinand. The ceremony was attended by Bulgaria's president at the time, Georgi Parvanov.

On every occasion that friends and family members visited us in Bulgaria, we took them to see the magnificent synagogue. The synagogue made such an impression on me that I included one scene in the building in my novel.

Friday, December 27, 2013

Review of "Smokescreen"by Khaled Talib

In Smokescreen, a fast-paced espionage thriller by Khaled Talib, someone wants the prime minister of Israel dead. An innocent man will be blamed for the assassination.

Israel's leader has held secret talks with the Palestinians, including Hamas, and is willing to make serious concessions in exchange for peace. The historic announcement detailing the peace deal will be made in Singapore upon the prime minister's visit, and that is where the assassination will take place. Similar to conspiracy theories surrounding the killing of U.S. President John F. Kennedy in Dallas, blame for the assassination will be placed on a patsy to divert attention from the real conspirators.

Tuesday, December 24, 2013

Why I Prefer Editing a Novel to Writing One

Some authors start writing their novel with a detailed outline prepared in advance. These "planners" may have labored out a scene-by-scene plot before sitting down to write the first word of their book.

Other authors start writing with a general idea in their mind but with a willingness to allow the story to develop as they go. These "pantsers" may only know the basic idea of their book, or perhaps just its opening line.

Both types of authors work hard at completing the first draft of their manuscript but when they succeed in that, the field is leveled. Editing, the next stage, takes a hastily written manuscript (although the writing process can actually go on forever) and transforms it into a readable novel. Many writers abhor the editing process, but I actually enjoy editing a novel much more than I do writing one.

Here's an interesting fact about my writing process. I am preparing a detailed outline of my book after having completed the first draft.

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

Seinfeld's Kibbutz Days

An interesting part of Israel's history is often overlooked by historians. In 1971, future comedian Jerry Seinfeld, aged 17, volunteered on Kibbutz Sa'ar for a short period of time.  "I worked in the banana groves," Seinfeld later recollected. "I couldn't take it any longer! It was hard work; you guys work hard in Israel."

Seinfeld's experiences during his kibbutz days never made their way into the iconic television series that bore his name, but they did play a role in The Virtual Kibbutz, my collection of short stories detailing life on Israel's unique society. The book's opening story, "Searching for Seinfeld," was based on the true story of a newspaper reporter's search for Seinfeld's kibbutz past.

Monday, December 16, 2013

We Survived Jerusalem's Snowstorm of the Century

I know what snow is. I grew up in Sioux City, Iowa, and experienced many blizzards in my childhood. My wife grew up in Ithaca, New York, which had very white winters as well. Living in Israel, we thought that we would escape harsh winters, yet we still have strong memories of the storm that struck the country in 1992, which blanketed our home in Moshav Neve Ilan with half a foot of snow and knocked out the electricity for three days. And then recently, we lived for two years in Bulgaria, where the winters are quite cold and snow is very common.

We didn't know that the worst snowstorm in some 150 years was heading our way. The first snow fell on Thursday morning, but then the storm struck in force overnight, knocking out our power and leaving us without heat as well. We assumed the electricity would go back on right away, but another night of heavy snow hit us.

We are just now recovering from four days without power and heating and beginning to deal with the severe damage caused to our house by a falling tree and a leaking roof.

Friday, December 6, 2013

Masada - The Legend and the Truth

On an isolated mountaintop overlooking the Dead Sea is Masada, a symbol of Jewish independence and freedom. With sheer rock cliffs dropping 450 meters, the nearly impregnable fortress is stunning when seen against the majestic starkness of the Judean Desert.

It was on Masada that a small garrison of Jewish rebels held out against the Roman conquest in the year 73 CE. Three years after the Temple in Jerusalem had been destroyed, Eleazar Ben Ya'ir and some 960 others of the Sicarii Zealots resisted the siege of Roman governor Flavius Silva and the mighty Tenth Legion of the most powerful army on earth.

Rather than allow themselves to be captured and taken off into slavery in the far reaches of the Roman Empire, the Zealots decided that it was better to die at their own hands as free men. After listening to an impassioned speech by Ben Ya'ir, the Zealots drew lots and then took their own lives.

This makes for an amazing story, something that still resonates in Israel today when new army recruits swear in with the vow, "Masada will never fall again". But how much of the Masada story is actually true?

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Review of the Novel “The Settler” by Orit Arfa

In 2004, Israeli Prime Minister Ariel Sharon proposed a “Disengagement plan” that would see the country unilaterally relinquish control over the Jewish settlements in the Gaza Strip and the northern West Bank in recognition that “there exists no Palestinian partner with whom to advance peacefully toward a settlement.” There were 9,000 Israeli residents living in 21 civilian Israeli communities in the Gaza Strip at the time. In August 2005, Israeli soldiers evicted these settlers and a month later, the last IDF troops withdrew from Gaza.

Orit Arfa's novel The Settler opens as soldiers are evicting the Dakar family, long-time Gush Katif residents and agricultural pioneers in their community. The scene is traumatic – a family of ordinary citizens who didn’t break any laws is being forcefully pulled out of their home – yet it is a scene that most Israelis avoided seeing, or thinking about. This harrowing experience leads Sarah Dakar, the family’s oldest daughter, to reevaluate everything she has held dear about Israel and its values.

“The very symbols we cherish as Zionists are now symbols of our oppression,” Sarah thinks, questioning why her family was being forced out of Gaza. “Did so many Israelis really not want us there?” It was self evident to Sarah and her family that “the land belonged to the Jews, that Gush Katif was a buffer zone, that Hamas terrorists would take over if [they] left.”

Sarah and her family believed that the government’s plan would never actually happen. “Settlers were out of touch with the reality around them, didn't believe the disengagement would happen.” And when it did, it was not ‘disengagement’, but rather an ‘expulsion’.

Statements like this repeat ad nauseum in Sarah’s mind, and in her conversations with the people she meets after fleeing from her parents’ home. The novel makes a half-hearted attempt to explain the other side – the government’s and the majority’s rationale in leaving Gush Katif – but this is always in the context of why the country made a wrong decision.

“Some rabbis even said that Gaza wasn't technically a part of biblical Israel, not like Judea and Samaria. I always liked to believe that the land of Israel was our birthright, promised to our forefathers, and Gush Katif was the embodiment of an ideal: a utopia of Torah observance that lived out the highest biblical value of settling and sowing the land of Israel.”

While her parents are left to deal with a temporary home, first in a Jerusalem hotel and then in a Nitzan ‘caravilla’, Sarah escapes to the big city. She abandons her religious values, one by one. She no longer observes the Sabbath, no longer eats kosher. After all, she rationalizes, if God has abandoned her and her family, what was the point in adhering to the traditions?

Sarah, now going by the name of Shachar, replaces Judaism with the nightclub life of Tel Aviv. Everything she sees is compared to her former observance of the traditions. “I look up to the DJ booth the same way people looked up to the ark of the Torah just hours ago: in search of transcendence.” Sarah/Shachar “has claimed the dance floor as her Holy Land.” Sarah wins a nightclub beauty pageant, leading her new friends to declare: “The settler has officially become a sexpot.”

But The Settler is not entirely the story of Sarah’s disengagement from Judaism, but rather the story of “a good girl gone bad to better”. Eventually she realizes that the nightclub that has come to replace her Gush Katif home is an illusion, without values or principles. She begins to search for her way back – back to her family and her traditions. And, she helps her boyfriend – the anti-religion, diehard peacenik nightclub owner -to see the error in his ways in how he relates to the Gaza withdrawal.

This book is a coming-of-age story that will not appeal to all readers. Despite the creation of a terrorist Hamas entity in the wake of Israel’s unilateral withdrawal, most Israelis have “buried it in [their] collective memory.” No matter how much she calls out for attention, not everyone will sympathize with Sarah Dakar when she recalls her former home: “It wasn't a ‘settlement,’ an ‘obstacle to peace,’ a ‘territory’. It was a home, a home worth fighting for back then – and now.”

Sarah cannot disengage from her traumatic past, but the rest of Israel has already moved on.

The author, Orit Arfa, a native of Los Angeles and now a resident of Ariel, is a Times of Israel blogger who previously wrote the nightlife section of the Jerusalem Post.

Originally published on The Times of Israel.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

How Do You Spell Hanukkah?

The holiday of Hanukkah, the Festival of Lights, begins tonight with the traditional lighting of the first candle on the Hanukkah menorah. The holiday commemorates the re-dedication of the Holy Temple, wrestled from the Greeks by Judah the Maccabee in the year 164 BCE. The Maccabees were a family from the town of Modiin, and they founded the Hasmonean dynasty that would rule the country until Roman times.

According to tradition, the oil used in the Temple's re-dedication was only supposed to last one day, but miraculously lasted for eight days instead. From this miracle, holiday customs and traditions developed celebrating both the festive lights and the oil itself.

Sunday, November 24, 2013

Catholics in the Holy City of Jerusalem

How is it possible to live in Israel for over forty years and not be familiar with all of the winding streets of the Old City of Jerusalem? How could it be that within the walls there are churches of such stunning beauty but I never knew they existed in Israel?

My wife and I signed up for a four-session touring course on "Minorities in the Old City of Jerusalem" and the first visit was to the Christian Quarter, to learn about the role the Catholics play in the Holy City. The tour had been organized by Zman Eshkol, the leading operator of leisure studies in Israel, and our guide for the day is Esther Sa'ad.

Friday, November 22, 2013

How I Got 10,000 Twitter Followers in Less than 10 Months

An aspiring author asked me recently how I had managed to build up such a large social media platform in such a short period of time. I had set up my Twitter account at the beginning of February and was nearing 10,000 followers when he asked. I was glad to share my experiences and offer some advice. But first, I told him, a more important question was asking why it was important to me to have such a large Twitter following.

I have always had problems connecting with Facebook's interface, and in fact, many of my 'friends' seem a lot less active these days. Either that or I just never see their posts because of Facebook's incomprehensible algorithms. I never set up a Facebook author page, deciding instead to use Twitter as my primary promotion platform, and as a way of connecting with other writers.

You have to relate to Twitter with an understanding of what you can get out of it. Most of my followers are fellow writers, so I never shout out "Buy my book" in my tweets. I have sold a few books directly thru Twitter, but I think I could count these sales on two hands. So, why is Twitter important to me?

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Who Will Die Last, a Review

My review of David Ehrlich's short story collection is longer than the shortest story in the book. This is a slim volume which despite its brevity, gives readers a realistic, touching and memorable view of different aspects of Israeli life.

Although the stories of Who Will Die Last barely fill 150 pages, one shouldn't attempt to finish them in one sitting. Each story has to be digested by itself; each one lingers pleasantly after completion. Some of the stories, barely a page or two long, are just right at that length, while others introduce us to characters we wish to know further and situations that we wish would last longer.

Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Tastes and Colors of South Tel Aviv

When tourists come to Tel Aviv they spend time on the sandy beaches, eat in tasty restaurants, visit galleries and museums, stroll through ancient Jaffa, and enjoy a city with thriving nightlife. But for many Israelis, even someone like me who commutes to Tel Aviv for work every day, there are parts of the city that I don’t know at all.

My wife and I signed up for a three-part visit to the markets of Tel Aviv, with a focus on the special tastes and foods available. The course is run by Zman Eshkol, the leading operator of leisure studies in Israel, and our guide for the day is the very knowledgeable Or Rein.

The tour starts at the iconic Shalom Tower, once the highest skyscraper in the entire Middle East. Let's step inside for a little bit of history about Tel Aviv's origins, and then we'll begin tasting the special foods that Tel Aviv has to offer.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Scenes from "Valley of Thracians": Belogradchik

One of my most memorable trips while living in Bulgaria was to Belogradchik in the northwestern part of the country, not far from the Serbian border. Belogradchik, a town whose name literally means "small white town," is famous for the nearby Belogradchik Rocks formation and the medieval Belogradchik Fortress, which was built in and around the massive rock cliffs.

I was so impressed by what I saw that I knew that I would have to include a scene in Belogradchik in the suspense novel I was writing. I wasn't sure if I would be able to capture the unique, striking beauty of this natural wonder, which served as Bulgaria's candidate in the 2009 New 7 Wonders of Nature competition.

Belogradchik is a must-see destination for any tourist coming to Bulgaria, but like much of the country, it remains off-the-beaten track for most visitors. Join me now on a virtual tour of Belogradchik, where one of the pivotal scenes of Valley of Thracians takes place, with accompanying texts from my novel.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

How I Found Time to Write in My Busy Schedule

I am frequently asked what the most difficult part of being a writer is. Is it conceiving the initial outline for the plot of a novel? Or the development of the characters? Perhaps editing is the most challenging part of the process? Many fellow authors argue that marketing their books takes up the majority of their time and, admittedly, marketing a book is much more difficult than writing and editing.

For me, though, the most difficult part of being a writer is finding the time to write. I commute to my office job every day, getting stuck in traffic in at least one direction. While at work I try to concentrate on my job. By the time I return home in the evening hours I am physically exhausted and my mind is drained of all creativity. Weekends, unfortunately, offer less of an opportunity to write than I would like. I prefer to spend my free time with my wife and family. Also, I like to read, travel, watch entertaining television shows, and take long walks.

So, when is there time to write? I finally found a solution.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Former Mossad Agent Pens Mossad Thriller

Mishka Ben-David's spy thriller Duet in Beirut is extremely realistic due to the author's twelve years of service in the Mossad, Israel's national intelligence agency.

According to former Mossad agent turned author Mishka Ben-David, "one out of a 1000 operations go wrong." Ben-David should know, as he participated in the 1997 botched assassination attempt on the life of Hamas leader Khaled Mashaal. It was Ben-David who handed the antidote to the poison injected into Mashaal's body over to the Jordanians in exchange for the two Mossad agents who were captured.

Another botched assassination attempt takes place in Ben-David's 2002 spy thriller, Duet in Beirut, which has just been published in English for the first time with a seamless translation by author Evan Fallenberg.

Friday, November 1, 2013

How I Made My Book Trailer in One Hour, for Free

I invite you to view the book trailer for Valley of Thracians and get your impressions of it. Not of the book, but of the book trailer itself. What do you think?

Viewers of the trailer have told me that it gives a good sense of Bulgaria, a country that they have never visited, and one about which they know very little. Also, viewers have said that the trailer is very suspenseful, highlighting the mysteries that await readers of the book.

So, take less than two minutes of your time to view the trailer, and then I'll tell you how I made it in one hour, absolutely for free. I'll tell you upfront that I have no experience editing videos and I've never done this before. If I could do it, so can you.

Sunday, October 27, 2013

A Mosque, a Synagogue, and a Church

My wife and I have traveled quite a bit in the Balkans and we enjoy learning about different cultures and seeing new places. Sometimes, though, the most beautiful places of all are right at your doorstep.

This past weekend, we vacationed in Israel's north, traveling around the Galilee and taking in the rolling hills, the pastures full of grazing cattle, the neat rows of vineyards, and the picturesque communities. We walked through the artist colony of Tzfat (the mystical city of Kabbalistic Judaism also known as Safed), and visited the renovated historic village of Rosh Pina.

We drove north, toward Israel's border with Lebanon. Here the scenery was even more beautiful, full of dark green forested valleys. We had never traveled these northern roads before and every turn exposed us to new vistas. Our journey on the cloudless October day would take us to see a mosque, a synagogue, and a church - three houses of worship quite unlike those we had seen in the past.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Joy of Kosher, a Tasty but Slightly Salty Review

I don't cook, let's make that clear, but I do enjoy eating. Does that qualify me to review Jamie Geller's new cookbook? I think so!

How does someone who doesn't cook review a cookbook? By enlisting the wife of course. My wife selected a number of dishes from Geller's Joy of Kosher cookbook for our Friday night dinner and I, of course, volunteered to eat them.

But first, a word about the book. Geller's previous cookbook, Quick & Kosher - Recipes From The Bride Who Knew Nothing, was published in 2007. That book was called an "autobiographic cookbook" by one reviewer on Amazon. This cookbook is a worthy sequel, as Geller's family takes center stage. It features Geller's husband and her five children in pictures and stories accompanying the various sections of the book.

Friday, October 18, 2013

How I Sold 910 Copies of My Book in One Week

Not to brag, but rather to share and encourage…

During the entire month of September, my self-published suspense novel Valley of Thracians sold a grand total of four copies. This was despite the fact that the book had received favorable reviews on Amazon; it had been featured and spotlighted on many book blogs; and I had written guest posts on various authors' websites.

My marketing strategy since publishing the novel at the end of January included its being part of the KDP Select program, making it available for Kindle exclusively at Amazon. During the month of March I ran a five-day free promotion, and the book was downloaded by over 8,000 readers all over the world, making it a 'bestseller' for three days, if you can define a free book as something that 'sells'. But after the digital book went back to its normal price of $4.99 a copy, sales dropped off steadily, reaching a new low with the four books sold in September.

Clearly, potential readers were not being enticed to buy the book. I needed to do something to increase sales.

Sunday, October 13, 2013

A Taste of Coexistence at the Majda Restaurant

A restaurant in the village of Ein Rafa played host to celebrity travel chef Anthony Bourdain. My friends and I dined there on tasty food that was a fusion of cultures.

Bourdain's recent broadcast from Jerusalem of 'Parts Unknown' on CNN received some flack due to its purported Palestinian bias. Bourdain opened the show by acknowledging that his visit would be seen by many "as a terrorist sympathizer, a Zionist tool, a self-hating Jew, an apologist for American imperialism, an Orientalist, socialist, a fascist, CIA agent, and worse." But, putting politics aside, the travel chef treated viewers to the tastes and culture of Israel and the Palestinian territories.

Highlighted on the show was a visit with a mixed-marriage couple who run a restaurant in the village of Ein Rafa. As he ate outdoors, Bourdain talked with the owners, Michal and Yakub. The food looked so good that it resulted in an intense desire on my part to dine at this unusual restaurant, whose name is Majda.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Paratroopers, Peace Plans, and Prayers

Yossi Klein Halevi's Like Dreamers is an epic narrative of modern Israeli history, detailing the transformation of Israeli society following the Six Day War.

In June, 1967, Israel stunned its Arab neighbors and the entire world with a swift victory against seemingly insurmountable odds, capturing east Jerusalem, the West Bank, the Sinai Peninsula, and the Golan Heights. Just six years later, Egypt and Syria launched coordinated attacks on Israel's northern and southern borders, catching IDF commanders and government leaders by surprise and destroying the myth of Israel's invincibility.

Years of euphoria immediately following the Six Day War were replaced by a period of uncertainty that not only questioned who was responsible for the Yom Kippur War failures, but also how Israel should relate to the appropriated territories. In many ways, Israel is still facing the consequences of those two wars today.

Friday, September 27, 2013

A Day at the Beach in Tel Aviv

What's the weather like in your part of the world? Here in Israel, late September is one of the best times of the year. The skies are bright blue, the days are pleasantly warm, and the evenings are cool and refreshing. We've already had our first rain of the season, but there is still plenty of time to enjoy the wonderful weather.

My wife and I headed off yesterday for a day at the beach. Tel Aviv has about 14 kilometers (9 miles) of Mediterranean beachfront, with promenades, sandy beaches, numerous cafes and restaurants, fancy hotels, and endless blue horizons. We usually head to the Charles Clore Beach in the south, mainly because of its close proximity to Jaffa (Yafo),with its Biblical connections and historic port.

Also known as the Dolphinarium Beach, for the dolphin tank and nightclub that once stood at the site, the Charles Clore Beach is a comfortable place to relax in the sun. We left our home in the Judean Hills and the drive took us 35 minutes (because there was no traffic on the holiday). When we go to the beach we go early in the morning, to ensure getting a good parking spot across the street from the beach and a spot in the shade.

Tuesday, September 24, 2013

Daydreaming Is Part of a Writer's Job

The other night at the dinner table, my wife noticed that I wasn't focusing on our conversation. In fact, I was staring off into space, with my fork held in midair. "Hello, are you there?" she asked.

"Sorry, I was working," I replied.

Working? What kind of work has you staring off into space, daydreaming?

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

My Granddaughters Are Passionate About Passion Fruit

Israel is known for its wide variety of delicious fruit. In the winter months, citrus is prevalent with tasty oranges, grapefruits, and clementinas providing ample amounts of vitamin C. During the summer months, the markets are full of apricots, peaches, pears, plums, grapes, watermelons, melons, and figs. Pineapples are homegrown, apples are available all year round, pomegranates play a role in Rosh Hashanah traditions, and etrogs mark the Sukkot holiday. There are bananas, cherries, dates, kiwifruit, guava, pomelos, strawberries, and avocados! And isn't the olive also a fruit?

I apologize if I may have inadvertently offended fruit growers in Israel whose specialties were not mentioned in the previous paragraph. With so many types of locally grown fruit, what do you think is the one my two granddaughters most enjoy?

Both young girls, aged 3 1/2 and 1 1/2, happily pick up their passion fruit halves and spoon out the slimy, seedy juices from within. One half is quickly consumed, and then it's on to the other half. Passion fruit is definitely an acquired taste, but my granddaughters apparently acquired their love for this fruit at birth.

Photo credit: "AlexanderKlink", Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported license.
Known in Hebrew by its Latin name, passiflora, the passion fruit is a hard, yellow-to-purple round ball that is rich in vitamins A and C, fiber, and iron. In Israel, besides being eaten by young children in its raw state, passion fruit wine is a specialty and the fruit's distinct flavor and pulp are added to soft drinks and yoghurts.

12.99 shekels ($3.67) for a package of 8 at Mega supermarket in Jerusalem.

What blessing do you say when eating a passion fruit?

Religious Jews say blessings before everything they eat. Each blessing is set according to the specific type of food. There are blessings for wine, bread, fruit, vegetables, grains, and a miscellaneous blessing for everything else. So what blessing do you say before eating a passion fruit?

According to the scientific classification of Passiflora edulis, the fruit is grown on a vine (and not on a tree), and therefore, one would conclude that the blessing would be the same as that recited before eating pineapples, peanuts, and vegetables, namely 'borei pri ha'adamah', or 'fruit of the ground'. According to the very detailed coverage of Jewish food blessings listed in the book, Halachos of Brochos by Rabbi Yisroel Pinchos Bodner, passion fruit should be blessed as a 'fruit of a tree', as a vine is considered a tree even if it has a very small trunk. But another religious text, Binyan Shalom, argues that passion fruit should be considered a 'fruit of the ground'.

Needless to say, Ashkenazi Jews and Sephardic Jews relate to the passion fruit in different ways, with different customs. The bottom line in my house, however, is that the only blessing recited by my granddaughters to which I relate is when they cry out for "More!"

The flower of the passion fruit. Photo credit: U.S. Agricultural Research Service.

Passion fruit recipes

To conclude this article on a sweet note, let's consider what else the passion fruit is good for if you don't particularly enjoy scooping out mush. You won't get any recipes from me, but here are three Israelis who definitely have a passion for cooking.

As Tel Aviv-based Liz says on the Café Liz kosher vegetarian food blog:
"Passion fruit is downright weird - it’s ripe once the peel begins to wrinkle, at which point you slice it open to find it filled with yellow goo. Not the kind of texture you’d usually associate with fruit. That said, it’s a fabulous ingredient for cooking - full of intense, tangy flavor."
"More, please!"

Monday, September 16, 2013

40 Years after Yom Kippur

For a 16-year-old new immigrant, the siren interrupting Yom Kippur prayers was very unexpected. The war took the entire country by surprise.

The siren blared suddenly, unexpectedly, just after 2pm. Like many other observant Jews in Jerusalem at that moment, I was in synagogue, anxiously waiting for the Yom Kippur Musaf service to end so that I could take a break from the never-ending prayers. I was  totally unprepared for a siren on the holiest day of the year. The other congregants were unprepared as well.

I had made Aliyah the previous year from Sioux City, Iowa, where nothing ever happened. In my first months of living in a new country I was initiated as an Israeli. There was a horrific terrorist attack at Lod Airport, and a few months later, Palestinian terrorists killed our athletes, including a classmate's father, in Munich. I grew up quickly.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Every Holocaust Survivor Has a Story

There is no number tattooed on the arm of Sal Wainberg, yet he is a survivor of the Holocaust. According to Deb Levy, who penned Wainberg's memoir, entitled Bury the Hot, what Sal "doesn't have branded on his skin, he carries deep inside… he doesn't have a number; just a narrative."

Wainberg "has wanted to write his story for a long time," Levy writes. "Seeing the written testimony is the final step he needs in the five stages of grief. He needs to know he's left his legacy."

Levy, whose parents are long-time friends of Wainberg and his wife, never knew that he had a Holocaust story to tell. As she began to interview him with the purpose of putting his memories into book-form, she wondered how he could recall, with such detail, the horror of growing up in war-torn Poland. "There are memoires, sensations as clear to me now as they were some 70 odd years ago," he told her. "They swim through my mind, with traces of understanding I had as a child and reconciliations I've come to in my later years."