From the Publisher
From the Author
After endless hours of discussion, Cecile began to feel more comfortable with discussing her experiences with me. In time, she sat her children and grandchildren down and told them what had happened to her. With some basic training and coaching, she began to be comfortable with talking about it to groups. One group, in particular, was the temple her daughter's family belonged to. For the first time, this audience contained a member of her family -- her granddaughter -- named after the beloved mother she had lost.
While these sessions made Cecile more comfortable with speaking in front of groups, she now felt that she wanted it to be chronicled in book form. She had written notes, journals, diaries and poems but had no vehicle to give her family the immortality she felt they were owed. At that point, she and I started speaking in earnest about doing the book. I advised her of the difficult emotional task ahead of her as we sought to bring her family to life. Through the pages of the book, everyone would see her beloved mother, father, sister, grandparents and others in ways she had kept hidden for years. I knew it would stir a great deal of pain inside her and, to her credit, her mission of wanting this story told was strong enough to overcome the pain.
I decided to do the project for several reasons. One, it is an extremely compelling story. It is exciting, touching, dramatic, suspenseful -- and true. Second, as a Jew myself, I believe strongly in passing our knowledge and insight to the next generation. It is my responsibility as an adult to help convey to those who follow what has happened in my time. Third, I felt a strong responsibility to this woman, who had endured so much and who had entrusted me with her inner-most feelings. More than anything else in the world, she wanted to do this so that the story of her family would live forever. She gave me the information I needed to tell the story and my commitment to her was so strong that I agreed to be the storyteller.
When the book was published in the summer of 1997, it represented the single most important moment of my professional life. -- Joe Allen