Today is Yom HaShoah, otherwise known as Holocaust Remembrance Day. And since my collection of short stories, Quiet Americans, is so connected to the Holocaust and its reverberations, this week has brought additional opportunities to focus on the very real history, global and familial, behind the book.
Last Sunday, I was invited to speak with the members of the City Congregation for Humanistic Judaism here in New York. The title of my talk was “My German-Jewish Grandparents and Third-Generation Preoccupations: History, Healing, and Happily Ever After?” I assembled a presentation that included brief readings from three of the stories in my book. The group was fabulous–full of people with their own related family stories and thoughtful questions/reflections. I’m so grateful to Ellen Meeropol for bringing Quiet Americans to the attention of Rabbi Peter Schweitzer, and to Rabbi Peter for the invitation to speak. (I also want to thank him for the generous shout-out that he gave My Machberet, which is the blog that I maintain to focus on matters of specifically Jewish literary [and cultural and political] interest.)
Next Monday, I’ll have the privilege of visiting with a class at Baruch College. The course is titled “Representing the Holocaust.” I have to admit that it’s a bit overwhelming to see my name on a syllabus alongside those of Saul Friedlander, Aharon Appelfeld, Charlotte Delbo, Primo Levi, Cynthia Ozick, Deborah Lipstadt and others. The class will have read two of the stories in my book: “Lebensraum” and “The Quiet American, Or How to Be a Good Guest.” This will be my first visit with a college group, and I’m so eager to hear what the students have to say.
It seems appropriate to take a moment today to thank all of you who have already supported Quiet Americans with purchases. As you may know, I’m making quarterly donations based on the book sales to The Blue Card, which supports U.S.-based survivors of Nazi persecution and their families. Since the book was released last January, your purchases have allowed me to donate $845. And I thank you for that.
I’d love to break the $1,000 mark sooner rather than later (and to keep going from there). Every sale counts, so anything you can do to encourage friends, family members, book groups, librarians, and anyone else to help make that possible–even simply sharing this post on Twitter or Facebook–will be deeply appreciated. Especially today.