WRITER’ DIGEST REVIEW
“This remarkably well-detailed story of a Holocaust survivor is painful and harrowing to read. Her ability to reconstruct her life is a tribute to her courage and resolution. Her tremendously eventful life is told by a friend of many years. The book is broken down into her early life, ghettos and concentration camps, refugee status and escape to Israel, and the healing process. Life in her village in former Czechoslovakia covers her family, her wig making trade, and then the takeover by Hungarians, allied to the Nazis. Jews were forced into ghettos and then finally shipped off on a cattle train to Auschwitz-Birkenau, one of the German concentration camps. She became the only survivor of her family on that death train. Her story shows all the horrors and humiliations of existence in a camp, with only her young age and strong constitution saving her. Dealing with Russian soldiers in the tumult at the end of the war, and life at a kibbutz in Israel, are other fascinating segments of her story. The writing is vivid. Many photos embellish the moving text. The dialogue, while presumably reconstructed, is very credible. More use of subheads and chapter breaks would be worthwhile. Maps help greatly in envisioning the locations involved. There’s also a time line of events. One particularly interesting part of the appendix area entails questions students asked of her as a Holocaust survivor. The title and subtitle of the book are excellent, but the cover design is too busy. The rear cover is terrific but the name of the sculpture and its site should be cited.”
“Meinstein’s biography of Holocaust survivor Leah Cik Roth, told from her subject’s perspective.
Roth’s story begins in Brustury, Czechoslovakia (now part of Ukraine), with her earliest memory: the death and funeral of her mother when Roth was 5. Traumatic as that event was for Roth, she reminds the reader that “in years to come I would see death every day without the dignity given to my mother.” Roth tells of her childhood among the Orthodox Jewish community of her Carpathian village and of her desire to leave at age 14 due to a tense relationship with her stepmother. Following the Hungarian invasion of Carpathia, Roth traveled to the city of Chust to work as an apprentice basket maker and wig maker. She was in Chust in 1941 when she learned that most of her community, including her father and nearly all her siblings, had been forced over the Polish border by Hungarian forces and executed by firing squads. So begins the truly terrible account of Roth’s journey, which brought her to the ghetto of Sekernice, then to Auschwitz (and face to face with Mengele himself), then to Birkenau, Stutthof, and Brano, and finally to a forced march in the final months of the war. She subsequently escaped to Israel—she offers insight into the early years of that nation—before eventually immigrating to the United States. Meinstein is an eloquent writer, suitably skilled for describing both the lighter and darker chapters of Roth’s life. It’s an idiosyncratic volume—part personal scrapbook, part primary document of several disparate eras and locales—accompanied by various supplementary materials, including a reading group guide, letters written between Meinstein and Roth, lengthy acknowledgements, and thick fanfare: a full 14 pages of reader reviews of this very book. Flourishes aside, the story serves as a particularly unnerving account of the camps and their aftermath as well as a testament to how treasured the survivors remain for succeeding generations of Jews and non-Jews alike. Meinstein is clearly working her hardest to deliver a book worthy of Roth’s story. The result is a collaboration that is affecting on many levels.
A charming, life-affirming biography of survival and community.”
The Holocaust only acts as a backdrop…Her eyes may be looking back, but they always revert to a future of hope. It will impact and imprint itself on every reader’s heart…a prize-winning portrait not to be missed.
-Hindi Diamond, z”l, Latin American Foreign Correspondent – Hallandale, FL, For: TIME/Life, Newsweek, United Press, McGraw Hill, NBC; VP, South Florida Int’l Press Club.
…told with depth and painful honesty. … a tribute to a friendship between two women, who had the courage to look back on the past together and the skill to tell of that past so compellingly.
-Michael Berenbaum, Ph.D., Professor of Jewish Studies, Sigi Zieirng Institute – Los Angeles; Former Project Director, US Holocaust Memorial Museum; Former President and CEO Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation.
…This is an essential read to comprehend those times so that it can be passed on from generation to generation
-Alan Freeman, Vice President, Jerusalem Foundation – Jerusalem, Israel.
…At the age of nineteen — the same age Leah was when she fought for her life in Auschwitz — I was denouncing the atrocities of the Holocaust. I denied that Survivors like Leah existed….Menucha’s beautiful prose combined with Leah’s raw account of being a Holocaust Survivor make this work a compelling personal narrative … It has freed me from the prison in my soul.
-Angela King, M.A., Former Skinhead; Editor-In-Chief, Life After Hate – Miami, FL, Specialist: Violent Extremism.
…I will be recommending this memoir to all students of the Nazi Holocaust of 1933-1945 as a primary resource, whether they be high school students, college students, or scholars and professors.
-Miriam Klein Kassenoff, Ph.D., University of Miami – Coral Gables, FL; Director, Holocaust Studies Summer Institute/School of Education; University/ Miami, Coral Gables, Florida; District Education Specialist/Holocaust Education; Miami-Dade County Public Schools/Holocaust Memorial.
…I have been given a chance to promise that we will do everything to lead our children into a world where all the atrocities she suffered will no longer be possible … We both know that education is paramount. … her story matters to history.
-Jürgen Borsch, Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany – Miami, FL.
… the choices Leah is forced to make, mark the reader forever. Menucha Meinstein’s prolific writing style transforms Leah’s life’s journey into a work of art and a textbook on this period.
-Rabbi Shabsi Alpern, Chabad – San Paulo, Brazil.
…told beautifully and with great compassion … is unique in the galaxy of holocaust memoirs … the portrait of an era …an invaluable tool in a renewed approach to education for our time.
-Joyce Klein, Educator, Storyteller, & Playwright – Jerusalem, Israel.
…a must-read, for to be moved to action one needs to be moved emotionally….eye opening, sometimes heartbreaking and other times inspiring. …alive with the colour of emotion. Survivors of the Holocaust and also to Survivors of genocides from Rwanda and Cambodia, I am struck by the similarities in their experiences as they are from different times, continents and cultures …message of hope and the importance of understanding and tolerance… the power of positivity.
-Maurice Ostro, OBE, KFO, Prime Minister’s Holocaust Commission, Vice-Chairman, Council of Christians and Jews – UK.
…a page-turner, a tear jerker; a true Kafka-like story so true that it couldn’t be written as fiction.
– Joseph Lebovic, Ph.D. (h.c.) Humanitarian and Philanthropist – Toronto, Canada; President, Lebovic Enterprises, Ltd.; BILD Lifetime Achievement Award; Joseph and Wolf Lebovic Jewish Community Campus.
…This book is a “must read” for the younger generations who may not realize how much evil man is capable of, and may not understand why it is so important for all of us to stand, together, against the apostles of hate.
-Ranley Desir, MD, Haitian Born Cardiologist – Aventura, FL.
… an act of love, combined with exquisite writing… Menucha turned Leah’s rough-hewn, untold story into a powerful work of art … At times it reminds me of Isaac Bashevis Singer, the Yiddish Nobel Prize winner, at times of the beautiful prose of Elie Wiesel … stands out, not only for the beauty and clarity of the writing, but for how it finds an indelible mark on the reader’s heart.
– Roberta Shapiro, M.ED., LCSW, NBCCH, Author – Miami Beach, FL; Creator and author, “The Calming Collection.”
…Your visit to the Memorial…is well written, moving, poignant and sad….I will remember it, for it reinforces my original commitment to make the Memorial a sacred place.”
-Kenneth Treister, Architect, Sculptor, and Author – Winter Haven, FL;“A Sculpture of Love and Anguish,” The Holocaust Memorial in Miami Beach, Florida.
…she enables others to enter into the pain and ongoing history of her family during the Holocaust within the wider context of the world and a unique biblical people going back millennia….helped teach the world a lesson about what can happen when we do not remain vigilant and true to our highest and best selves as all children of God.
-The Reverend Dr. Priscilla Felisky Whitehead, Minister Emerita, Bal Harbour, FL (The Church by the Sea – United Church of Christ).