Nov 20, 2009

Review/Interview Damsels in Regress

Check out the review of The Other Half of Life and interview with me on Damsels in Regress, a website devoted to books about historical fiction!

Nov 17, 2009

The Other Half of Life wins a Parents' Choice Award

Just found out The Other Half of Life rec'd a Silver Parents' Choice Award.

Established in 1978, Parents’ Choice Foundation is the nation’s oldest nonprofit guide to quality children’s media. Parents’ Choice Awards are given to products that meet and exceed standards set by educators, scientists, artists, musicians, librarians, parents, and yes, kids themselves. Fewer than 20% of the products submitted to the Parents Choice Award program receive any level of commendation, so I'm thrilled OHOL was chosen!

Nov 11, 2009

Listen to Elie Wiesel's presentation on WBUR

WBUR 90.9 FM will broadcast Elie Wiesel's lecture on the "Tragedy of the St. Louis" Sunday, November 15th at 9:00 pm.

Nov 10, 2009

Elie Wiesel on "Tragedy of St. Louis"

I had the pleasure of hearing Elie Wiesel speak on the "Tragedy of the St. Louis" at Boston University yesterday. Thousands of people attended Prof. Wiesel's lecture on what he aptly called the "Moral Titanic." If you've never had the chance to hear Prof. Wiesel speak, I suggest you somehow find a way to in the future. Simply put, he is amazing. A rare combination of intellect, soul, and humanity.

Much of his presentation was outlining the history of the St. Louis but his overall theme was man's inhumanity to man. He spoke of the shame of the leaders of the free world who "failed the test of humanity" in turning the St. Louis away. But he did not solely lay the blame on the leaders of free countries. He noted that the majority of the American public and American Jews did not express enough outrage about the situation. He stressed that no one staged a national protest or initiated a petition. He stated that had the St. Louis debacle happened a year earlier this might have been more tolerable but months after Kristallnacht--the horrors of which were covered widely by the American media--the American public knew full well what Jews faced in Hitler's Germany.

Wiesel singled out Captain Schroeder for his exemplary actions on behalf of his passengers. While the characters in my book are composites of real passengers, there is one exception and that is the Captain. He is the one person I chose to portray accurately because I was in awe of this man and the choices and risks he took on behalf of 937 Jewish passengers. Wiesel noted that Captain Schroeder is the hero in the story of the St. Louis and will "be remembered as a humanist." Schroeder later in life received the medal for Righteous Gentiles.

Other points in the talk I found particularly interesting included the fact that in 1938 and 1939 the Nazi policy, as put forward by Eichmann, was to help Jews leave the country in any way possible. Wiesel noted that at the Evian Conference Hitler even said, "Germany is ready to hand over Jews on luxury ships." But Germany was equally pleased when other countries didn't want the Jews either--it was confirmation in front of the whole world that "no one wanted the Jews."

In conclusion, Wiesel explained that all questions regarding the St. Louis remain unanswered. He stressed that what we can take away as students of history is that, as proven by Captain Schroeder, choice always exists. He ended the lecture by saying that to wait and to be silent is a sin, and that one should never give up on man's capacity for hope. He said, "Whatever you do in your life, think higher and feel deeper."

Nov 6, 2009

Back from Houston

Just got back from Houston, where I visited Beren Academy, the Emery-Weiner School, and the JCC. I gave several of my multi media presentations on The Other Half of Life, as well as did writing workshops for smaller classes. I was so impressed by the students at Beren, EW, and the JCC. They were great audiences, fabulous writers, and inquisitive minds. They asked wonderful questions about the St. Louis and my book, and in the workshops produced some top-notch writing! The general enthusiasm and energy of the students blew me away!

Thanks to the whole group who planned my visit and made my trip so pleasant: Marilyn Hassid and Judy Weil at the JCC, Elaine Lupovitch at Emery-Weiner, and my hosts Isabelle Meyer and Shira Yosher. And of course the biggest thanks to all the students!