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Yael Mermelstein

Aunt Leora just asked me to write up Safta’s life story. Safta’s a Holocaust survivor. Why would I tear open all of her wounds?

Wednesday, August 31, 2016

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ebruary 4, 2015: My Aunt Leora just approached me about writing up my Safta’s life story. Leora’s daughter, Tamar, my first cousin — well, her school puts on a Holocaust play every year, and she wants my Safta’s story to be featured. Apparently I’ve been elected the family writer. Seriously. Do I have time for this?

Besides, Safta lives inAmericawhile I’m here inIsrael. How could it even work? And it’s not like her story is a pretty one. Safta’s a Holocaust survivor. Why would I want to tear open all of her wounds? Sounds pretty cruel to me. I think I’ll pass.


Feb. 15: It’s 3 a.m. and I can’t sleep. Safta’s parents, Yitzchak and Chana Zisel Adler, were my great-grandparents. I never met them. How could I have? They were murdered by the Nazis. Who’s going to remember them, if not my family? How will my family remember them, if it isn’t written down? The Jews are the people of the book. Safta’s story needs a book. Who else will write it but me?


Feb. 15: 10 a.m. But I’m way too busy with other projects, deadlines, commitments. How am I supposed to budget my time? How am I supposed to rank the items in my life from most important to least important? Is there some objective system that I can use? Because I don’t know how to find the answers within myself.


Feb. 16: The idea of this book is seriously a mosquito that won’t stop buzzing in my ear. It’s going to burrow inside my brain soon enough if I don’t do something about it.


March 4: Copy of the e-mail my Aunt Leora sent to the principal of my cousin Tamar’s school:

Hi Rabbi B.,

Hope you are well.

It brings us such joy that Tamar is (finally) in your class!

Tamar has brought up on more than one occasion that she would love to have her Safta’s (my mother) story during the Holocaust, used as the basis for your annual Holocaust play.

I remember briefly discussing it with you.

You mentioned that you only take on stories that have a manuscript.

I have a niece who is an author.

She has published both adult and children’s books, as well as many articles.

I would ask her to write up this story.

Is there any way to make it happen for next year?

If she can get a manuscript together would that be acceptable?

Maybe if my niece could focus on one part of my mother’s story, it would be more helpful?



Any suggestions you could make would be appreciated.


My mother is very willing to take this on.

Thank you!


I’m sure they have many manuscripts to choose from in any event. They’ll surely take a pass on my unwritten one. People have all sorts of dreams, that doesn’t mean that any of them come true, right? Well, at least I can say I tried!

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