Laura Jockusch, Collect and Record: Jewish Holocaust Documentation in Early Postwar Europe (Oxford University Press, 2012).
Laura Rockusch has performed an inspiring service in producing her book, Collect and Record. Contrary to many people’s assumptions that Holocaust survivors were quiet, traumatized, passive from the war’s end to the Eichmann trial in 1961, she examines how Jews in Poland, France, and in Displaced Person Camps in Germany and Austria immediately set work to gather anything they could on what he just happened to their people during the 12 years of the Third Reich.
There were precursors for this kind of work; for example, at the end of World War I, the number of Jews killed in Ukraine in pogroms numbered between 50,000 and 100,00. Researchers then sought to gather accounts from witnesses and survivors. Here’s one message: “Brothers! A curse of terrible pogroms is befalling Jewish villages and towns, and the world does not know, we ourselves do not know or know only very little about it. This must not be concealed! Everything must be told and written down. It is a duty for every Jew who has come or comes from the devastated Jewish towns to report everything that he has seen, for the news must not be lost.” Khurbn-Forshung was the name given to this activity—Yiddish for “Destruction Research.” Read the rest of this entry »
Gratitude for the 11 people who’ve been reading, writing, and sharing the past two months in the online “Be in Love with Yr Life” Class.
I no longer see literature as an art or entertainment. For me literature must fulfill a certain mission in categories of history and justice. Literature is the art of correcting injustices. If there is nothing else I can do, I write a book. This is precisely the task of the witness today, of the modern storyteller, of the Jewish writer. We use words to try to alter the course of events, to save people from humiliation or death.
–Elie Wiesel, Against Silence, edited by Irving Abrahamson, v. 3, p. 116
Mev taught me something very important: She taught me that when you go to Ted Drewes you could mix all different kinds of frozen custard flavors together. I would never have dreamed of some of the possibilities she tried. Mev loved ice cream and she loved desserts – the richer the better, the more varied the better.
—Teka Childress, eulogy from 1996; quoted in The Book of Mev
Breathing in, we don’t know the future.
Breathing out, we smile.
I was writing in my Naikan notebook this morning, reflecting on some of what I’ve received from Andrew Wimmer. I remembered his “review” of The Book of Mev, and am happy to share it here.
This book contains multitudes.
Among other things, some beautiful faces, a spear through the heart, Chomsky transformed, and a bunch of hearts and minds wrapped in a tumor.
This is a book about the untimely death of Mev Puleo, a promising photojournalist, theologian, and seeker of the truth.
“Blessed are those who mourn.”
And mourn they do.
If you want hagiography, the life of the smiling girl with the camera who goes to Latin America and saves everybody, forget it. Read the rest of this entry »
I have sometimes dreamt that when the Day of Judgment dawns and the great conquerors and lawyers and statesmen come to receive their rewards — their crowns, their laurels, their names carved indelibly upon imperishable marble — the Almighty will turn to Peter and will say, not without a certain envy when He sees us coming with our books under our arms, ‘Look, these need no reward. We have nothing to give them. They have loved reading.’”
In this fall writing and reading course we will explore ways of deepening our reading practice, reflecting on our reading history, and sharing with others the fruits of our reading. Themes we will consider include: courtesy and answerability, the canon and the syllabus, intensive and extensive reading, commonplace books (paper and digital), learning by heart, skimming, browsing, planning and spontaneity, slow reading, a saturation job, being a scholar of words, Kafka’s Axe, grateful dependence on translators, the joy of recommendation, and more.
Each session will feature one or more themes, and allow time for individual writing, paired exchange, and open forum. We’ll also discuss Alberto Manguel’s A History of Reading.
Between class sessions, participants will post reflections, lists, questions, responses, and recommendations at a class blog. Read the rest of this entry »