November 6, 2015CHAIN REACTION
Often when I’m reporting one story, a lead to another story, and yet another story emerges. Such was the case a few months ago when I interviewed Simon Butler about a rediscovered transcript of an interview he did of Holocaust survivors. One of my sources for that story was Tova Rosenberg, founder of “Names, Not Numbers.” After I was done with the first story I called Tova back, and was able to delve a little deeper into the project, recently awarded non-profit status.
Each Holocaust survivor’s story is as unique as a snowflake, every testimonial a vital contribution to history. And, as in the case of the program “Names, Not Numbers” in which elderly survivors relate their first-hand accounts to high school volunteers, the survivors are assured that their own history is now personal for a new generation.
Participating students work with professionals, including local newspaper editors, filmmakers and Jewish studies teachers. Ultimately, their 60- to 90-minute documentaries become a permanent part of Jewish institutions worldwide including the National Library of Israel, Yad Vashem, and the Yeshiva University’s Gottesman Library. The films are also archived in several Holocaust museums, including in Skokie, Houston and Toronto.
The project’s name reflects the idea that each person experienced the Holocaust individually. It aims to reclaim lost identities in opposition to the tattooed numbers on inmates’ arms, their affixed badges and serial numbers on uniforms, the Nazis used to erase the identity of the Jewish people.
After I filed the story Tova called and asked me if I’d be able to teach students interviewing techniques. Since then I’ve had the privilege to travel to Yeshiva University High School for Girls in Queens and the Yeshiva University High School for Boys in Washington Heights. Next week I'm heading to the Anne Frank Center to teach another class on interviewing techniques to students who attend SAR, (Salanter Akiba Riverdale High School. I look forward to speaking with students about how the importance of back ground research, brainstorming a list of questions, and how to make the most of their chance to report history.
I recently finished Louise Penny’s “The Nature of the Beast.” While interesting it didn’t grip me as much as “The Long Way Home.” Personally I found the latter more compelling, more haunting and all together more engaging. The back-story of “Beast” is interesting, it delves but I don’t think it suited Three Pines and it’s beloved characters.
It’s early reading yet, I’m not even a hundred pages into “The Steady Running of the Hour,” Justin Go’s debut novel, but because of my possible next project, I’m fascinated with his descriptions of mountain climbing.
MANUSCRIPTS INTO MOVIES
Coming soon to a theater near you: “In the Heart of the Sea.” Starting Chris Hemsworth, Cillian Murphy and Brendan Glees, the Ron Howard film is based on Nathaniel Philbrick’s riveting account of the Whale ship Essex, which sank after a sperm whale rammed it repeatedly. The story is said to have inspired Herman Melville to write Moby Dick.
And then there’s Patricia Highsmith’s “The Price of Salt.” I read this for a literature class when getting my Master’s degree in American Studies. Anyway, Highsmith’s 1952 novel brings to life a love affair between a young woman who works in a department store and a suburban housewife. Cate Blanchett and Rooney Mara star.