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Jumping Over Shadows: A Memoir Paperback – April 4, 2017
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“Interwoven with the story of Gendler's great-aunt and illustrated with family photographs, the author's story offers an intimate and interesting . . . look at one woman's life choices and their outcomes . . . [a] candid and heartfelt memoir.”
“Piercing. The silver lining of hope, faith, and healing will leave readers stirred.”
"In this extraordinary work, Annette Gendler illuminates the borders and meeting points between Judaism and Christianity, Germans and Jews, American Jews and Israeli Jews. Writing with eloquent precision, she reminds us why converts to Judaism are among the most precious gifts to the Jewish people. This book confirms Annette Gendler as an indispensable Jewish voice for our time."
—Yossi Klein Halevi, author of Like Dreamers, Senior fellow, Shalom Hartman Institute, Jerusalem
"The ghosts of the past haunt a woman’s search for herself in this thoughtful, poignant memoir about the transformative power of love and faith.”
—Hillary Jordan, author of Mudbound and When She Woke
"Jumping Over Shadows is a compelling, gracefully written memoir about the impact of the past on the present. The narrative is centered on the author and her future husband's secret love affair as it bears on their struggle to come to terms with their families’ tragic personal histories. An intimate, dramatic, and profoundly human story.”
—Michael Steinberg, Author of Still Pitching, Founding Editor of Fourth Genre: Explorations in Nonfiction
About the Author
Annette Gendler is a writer and photographer. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Tablet Magazine, Bella Grace, and Artful Blogging, to name a few. She served as the 2014–2015 writer-in-residence at the Hemingway Birthplace Home in Oak Park, Illinois. Born in New Jersey, she grew up in Munich, Germany, and lives in Chicago with her husband and three children. Visit her at www.annettegendler.com.
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Top Customer Reviews
I brought the book on a recent plane ride. Annette combines world and family history along with personal reflection into such a compelling story, I was actually annoyed when I had to stop reading to get off the plane. That's the ultimate compliment since I hate flying! Beautiful work, thank you for sharing this incredible story.
I was immediately struck by the unusual and memorable title, which alludes both to a chapter in the book and to a comment made by the author’s future father-in-law upon meeting the author and learning that she and his son planned to marry. All of this, in spite of the fact that the elder Mr. Gendler was a Holocaust survivor from Poland who, on principle, never became a citizen of Germany, his adoptive country; and the fact that at the time, the future Ms. Gendler was bred in Germany and of Christian background. The idea behind this remark was that like the seeming impossibility of jumping over an elusive and intangible shadow, the elder Mr. Gendler did not know if he would ever be able to accept Ms. Gendler as his daughter-in-law – although he admitted that he would try.
Part memoir, part genealogical journey, Ms. Gendler’s work intrigued me with her multi-dimensional background and the parallels she found between herself and another family member from an earlier generation who also chose to marry a Jew. Albeit, in the case of this family member, this marital choice posed certain threats and led to serious complications in Germany during World War II, a period in which marriage between Jews and Gentiles was verboten under the Third Reich’s notorious Nuremburg Laws.
Without revealing too much about what the author uncovered during her exploration of her family’s history and about how she herself evolved overtime as a convert to Judaism, I will conclude by encouraging you to buy and read Ms. Gendler’s thought provoking and moving book.
Annette Gendler has a winner with her recently released memoir, Jumping Over Shadows. She tells the story of her romance with a Jewish man in her home country of Germany in the 1980’s. They keep their relationship a secret until they want to marry and she must decide whether she can convert to Judaism after having been raised Catholic.
Questions abound on both sides. Can her German Christian family accept the man she loves? Can Harry’s family give their blessing? Can she, and will she, convert to Judaism? Besides Annette and Harry’s story, the author delves back through the years using writing left by her grandfather to trace her family history. She finds parallels to her own situation. Her grandfather’s sister had married a Jewish man in Czechoslovakia prior to WWII which affected her family for many years.
Annette Gendler’s fine writing brings her story to life, along with that of her great-aunt’s, as well. The end of each chapter left me eager to continue reading. I tried to put myself in the author’s place, wondering what I might have done in the same situation. It was not easy and it left me admiring the author’s journey to marriage and a new faith as it had to have been a difficult path. Visiting the past helps us understand the present which this memoir has accomplished.
There were two things I would have liked to have seen in the book. One is a Family Tree which would have helped me sort out the relationships of her family more clearly. The other was that I wanted to know more about her children as they were born, not just seeing them as part of family trips in the latter part of the book. Both of these are small things and did not detract from my enjoyment of the book.