Tuesday, February 7, 2012

Here, There Are No Sarahs

After reading Rebecca Dalton’s blog posted last December, I thought about how often books I’m reading, whether for my book club or my own pleasure (and not necessarily by design) touch on themes directly/indirectly related to the Holocaust. I often choose books based on an interest piqued by something I’ve read online or heard at an author or community event. Exploring the website for the Jewish Partisans Educational Foundation, I watched a video testimony of Sonia Shainwald Orbuch. Her story was so engaging I wanted to read her book (co-written with Fred Rosenbaum) entitled Here, There Are No Sarahs—A Woman’s Courageous Fight Against the Nazis and Her Bittersweet Fulfillment of the American Dream.

Sonia was born Suraleh in Luboml, Poland. She was given the name Sonia when she joined a Russian partisan group because her name would have been “too Jewish” and put her in danger from some of the partisans themselves. Sonia’s story took her from the security of her shtetl to the ghetto to the forests of partisan groups. Eventually she, her husband, and her father experienced the DP camps before they were allowed to immigrate to the United States. She described her experiences clearly, directly, and openly.

Sonia’s experiences touch on many themes: loss of family, being in hiding, resistance, survival, partisan activities and struggles, love, retribution, generosity. She has chance encounters with so many others whose stories are also fascinating to research including:

Rabbi David Baruch, who participated in the one rally for rescue in the nation’s capital;

Eleanor Roosevelt, who visited the DP camp where Sonia and her family were living (select Sonia Orbuch)

Sara and Hayim Fershko, musicians who suffered horrifically in the hands of the Nazis—they were befriended in New York City by Sonia’s husband.

Sonia’s story (using the entire book or specific sections) would give students a view into one survivor’s partisan activities and would help answer questions on Jewish resistance.

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