New York, N.Y. 10013
Tel. (212) 925-9067
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Keeping Jewish Heritage Alive Through Literature

International Initiative in the Literature
The International Initiative in the
Literature of the Holocaust

In 1999, under establishing grants from the National Endowment for the Arts, the New York State Council on the Arts, the Lowe II Foundation and the Strochlitz Foundation, Jewish Heritage launched an intensified effort to bring the most worthy memoirs written by Holocaust survivors to publication. Mentors working under Jewish Heritage’s auspices have assisted hundreds of authors, most of them Holocaust survivors, to bring their books to the light of print.

Across the Generations

Many unforgettable relationships have resulted. Nearing the end of their days, the Holocaust survivors have found purpose, understanding, and even inspiration in life from their writing endeavors. And most importantly, their driving wish to bear witness to the terrible human destruction which they witnessed and survived is fulfilled for them in the most lasting and detailed way through the preparation and publication of their memoirs.

The Jewish precept that individuals live on through the influence they have on others is repeatedly fulfilled under the project’s auspices through the cross-generational pairings we establish to help the Holocaust survivors detail and refine their memoirs.

Acting to further the Jewish tradition of helping while learning from our elders, we guide our young editorial "mentors" in developing the survivors' accounts, while the young writers and editors gain a heightened sense of their own personal significance by bringing their writing acumen to the survivors’ books.

Two generations of Jewish literature are thus enriched. Our talented young writing mentors are indelibly affected by the sustained inspiration they gain from the immigrant and survivor authors’ courage to endure unthinkable misery and loss, and the survivors’ bravery in compiling and confronting those memories become lasting and detailed testimonies through publication.

The Time Left for this Effort is Critically Short

The survivor generation is sadly dying off, but its authors are driven by the determination to enrichment those of us who have come after. This important work greatly enhances the fulfillment of our responsibility to perpetuate Jewish culture; the heritage of the People of the Book can indeed be extended to future generations through the written legacies of both the survivor authors and of the younger writer/editors who are given the privilege of working with them. We know of no other initiative so effective in bringing older and younger Jewish writers together, nor of any which is working more directly to enrich public awareness of the day-to-day progression of the Holocaust and of how the Jews who were caught in that war responded to the Nazi drive to eradicate them. Our young writers and editors receive stipends for their work helping the Holocaust survivors complete their memoirs and bring them to publication. The survivors end their lives knowing they have done everything they can to describe to the worldwhat they and the families they so commonly lost were forced to endure.

Among its widely praised achievements, with National Endowment for the Humanities support and the close participation of YIVO Institute for Jewish Research, Jewish Heritage produced the Holocaust documentary, Lodz Ghetto. This memorable film allows an unprecedented view of Jewish life under German bondage by using the diaries and photographs which survived from the longest enduring concentration of Jews trapped in the Nazi persecution. Lodz Ghetto has been acclaimed around the world as a classic in its genre.
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