Portraits in Literature: The Jews of Poland. An Anthology

Portraits in Literature

Compiled and Edited by Hava Bromberg Ben-Zvi.

In loving memory of her husband, Ephriam Ben-Zvi.

Finalist, National Jewish Book Awards, 2011.

National Jewish Book Awards Finalist

‘The translations appear careful and yet imaginative, and the range of literature is stunning.’

Dr William Cutter, Emeritus Professor of Hebrew Literature, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles


‘This is obviously a labor of love… I was mesmerized by some of the selections. They give a broad sweep of the portrait of Polish Jewry’.

Deborah E. Lipstadt, Ph.D, Holocaust Historian.

Author of History on Trial and other books.

Dorot Professor of Modern Jewish and Holocaust Studies

Rabbi Donald Tam Institute for Jewish Studies, Director

Emory University, Georgia


• Gathers together the literature of a rich and varied Jewish life that is no more

• Sheds light on the origins and roots of contemporary Jewry in the English-speaking world

• The exceptionally broad range of literature paints the rich panorama of life as it was before, during and following the Holocaust, ending with tales of hope and renewal in new centres of Jewish life.

Of the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust, three million were the Jews of Poland. Their literary heritage is a treasure to be preserved. This lavish anthology brings together memoirs, short stories, poetry, eyewitness reports, fragments of novels, essays, letters, folktales and humour on Jewish life in Poland, that magnificent centre of Jewish life and culture. The work of writers, both Jewish and Polish, prominent and new, presents a true, valid, rich and compelling

panorama of life as it was, ending with stories of our time. It speaks in many voices, including those of women and children, voices of survivors and tales of rebirth and renewal.

Historically informative, heartbreaking, poignant and amusing. With every emotion sensitively and skilfully explored, this fascinating anthology will delight all readers, Jewish and non-Jewish. Meticulous listing of sources and a bibliography will prove fertile ground for students and scholars alike.

Praise for Portraits in Literature: The Jews of Poland: An Anothology

By Hava Bromberg Ben-Zvi

September 13, 2011

The gift Poland once offered


http://www.jewishjournal.com/ twelve_twelve/article/the_gift_polland_once_offered_20110913/

The long history of the Jews in Poland has been almost wholly eclipsed by the Holocaust. Fully half of the victims of German mass murder were Polish Jews, who numbered approximately 3.5 million on the eve of World War II. But the fact remains that Poland was the seat of a vibrant and enduring Jewish civilization that survives on the printed page and, in a real sense, in many of our own ideas about what it means to be Jewish.The point is vividly and memorably made by Hava Bromberg Ben-Zvi in the pages of “Portraits in Literature: The Jews of Poland, An Anthology” (Vallentine Mitchell: $74.95), an extraordinarily rich collection of more than 50 excerpts from fiction, reportage, poetry, memoir, correspondence, folklore and humor, all touching in one way or another on the Jewish experience in Poland.“My Jewish ancestors resided in Polish lands for approximately 1,000 years,” affirms the author, who shares a Polish-Jewish heritage with millions of American Jews. “This book is a saga of Jewish life in Poland as reflected in the mirror of literature.”Ben-Zvi has selected some of the most affecting and enlightening passages from her remarkably diverse source material, and she makes them even more meaningful by providing her own annotations and illuminations.  For example, she begins with a passage from Sholem Asch’s novel “The Rebel,” and she introduces the once-revered Yiddish writer to a new generation of readers who know little or nothing about him or his work. She points out that his novels about the life of Jesus, intended to show “the common roots of Judaism and Christianity and to bridge the gap between them,” resulted in a charge of apostasy. “Misunderstood, he defended himself for the rest of his life,” she points out, “mostly without success.”Other selections are meant to remind us, quite literally, of the rhythms, sounds and tastes of Jewish life in Poland. A charming memoir by Nina Luszczyk-Ilienkowa, for example, evokes the experience of a modest little store that was, in the eyes of the writer, nothing less than a place of wonder. “Look, ladies and gentlemen, what we have here. Hats of Vilnius milliners, from Zamkova Street, slightly out of fashion, but at convenient prices. Christmas ornaments and colorful tissue paper, laces, beads, pins, ribbons, clasps for girls’ braids. Tooth-combs, side combs, and gloves of fabric and wool, or lightly knit and transparent. On the other side, on little shelves, choice morsels galore.”  Even now, the writer confesses, “I swoon at the memory of the aromas long forgotten, not experienced for sixty years.” And so do we.Of course, Ben-Zvi feels an obligation to remind us that the victims of the Holocaust were flesh-and-blood human beings and not merely numbers.  Aliza Melamed recalls the unspeakable sights that she saw in the Warsaw Ghetto, but she also gives us a glimpse of the famous ghetto fighter Mordecai Anielewicz at an unguarded moment: “He always wore a gray coat, sports trousers and golf-socks; he had a thin face and greenish eyes with daring in them, which would sometimes smile, and then they looked so fatherly and forgiving.”Another intimate view of Anielewicz is given in an essay by the ghetto documentarian Emanuel Ringelblum, who recalls how the young man would borrow books on history and economics. “Who was to know that this quiet, modest, pleasant youth would, three years later, be the most important person in the ghetto, and that his name would be spoken of with veneration by some and with fear by others?” Anielewicz himself, who died in combat during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising, speaks for himself in a brief letter: “The last aspiration of my life has been fulfilled,” he wrote in the last moments of his heroic life. “Jewish self-defense and Jewish revenge are a reality.”“Jewish literature and culture did not perish from the face of the earth,” Ben-Zvi concludes. “Inherited and transformed by a new generation of writers, it was reborn, changed and enriched, finding new configurations, images and expressions.” Ben-Zvi’s beautiful and stirring book is a superb example of the same phenomenon.Jonathan Kirsch, author and publishing attorney, is book editor of The Jewish Journal. He blogs on books at jewishjournal.com/twelvetwelveand can be reached atbooks@jewishjournal.com.
© Copyright 2011 Tribe Media Corp.All rights reserved.

‘It is a pleasure to comment on this remarkable anthology of important literature from a world that was nearly lost. The editor/translator has compiled a collection that combines the important figures of the canon with surprising and nearly unknown writers, biographers and chroniclers.

We cannot get enough of this kind of material in the English speaking world which-sadly-is now the most populous Jewish center in modern life outside of Israel. The translations appear careful and yet imaginative, and the range of literature is stunning’.

Dr. William Cutter

Emeritus Professor of Hebrew Literature

Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles.


‘An amazing variety of writing is found in these selections: historically informative, heartbreaking, amusing and more. Excellence of writing is their only common denominator. ‘Mother’s Reward’ is touching and implicitly criticizes an elitist education system which is not accessible or of practical value to most people.

‘The Recipe of Rabbi Yenuka of Stolin’ is a folk tale offering an insight of universal value. ‘My First Day in the Orphanage’ and ‘Liberation’ show glimpses of real life during World War II. ‘The Catskills’, on the other hand gives a vigorous and optimistic picture of American Jewish immigrants thriving in their new country. It is heart warming and reassuring. Every emotion is sensitively and skillfully explored in this fascinating anthology’.

Kay Haugaard

Emeritus Professor of Creative Writing

Pasadena City College, California


‘A most meaningful creative literary tapestry of the magnificent center of Jewish Culture in Poland, a world of beauty and vibrancy that left an eternal indelible mark on the history of the Jewish people. Hava Ben-Zvi deserves the highest praise for this memorial for a world that was and is no more’.

Sam E. Bloch

President, American Gathering of Holocaust Survivors.


Portraits in Literature … is a delightful, comprehensive, and poignant anthology that brings to life the rich culture created by the Jews of Poland.

Reading it is a reminder of the riches Hitler attempted to destroy. It is good to be able to recapture some of these riches, and proof that through books like this, the Jewish heritage of gifted writers will stay alive.’

Ruth Gruber, author of sixteen books, including Raquela, Haven, and most recently, Inside My Time: My Journey from Alaska to Israel, which has received a Pulitzer Prize nomination.


‘Jews have lived in Poland since it was just a region of Slavic pagan tribes. But when the country organized itself and became Christian, it began a thousand-year harassment of its Jewish citizens. For much of that time, the persecution was intermittent and tolerable. But then, in five years starting in 1939, Hitler’s army swept in and murdered almost all of the Jews in Poland. Indigenous anti-Semitism created the climate for indifference or collaboration in the country, though there were cases of Poles heroically helping their condemned Jewish compatriots.

Hava Ben-Zvi was one of the few to escape annihilation. In this collection, she rescues stories from her lost homeland and preserves them in English for appreciation by a wide audience. First, she offers tales that paint a varied, touching, and compelling panorama of the bygone world of Polish Jewry.  Then she presents accounts of the Holocaust, its horror revealed in first-person intimacy. Finally, she selects stories of survivors adapting to their new lives in Israel and the United States.

Every one of these pieces is powerful in itself. Gathered together in Ben-Zvi’s anthology, they stand as testament to the vibrant Jewish culture that once thrived in Poland. This book is a unique resource not only for those exploring Jewish heritage, but for anyone who seeks to understand the overall history of Europe’.

Irene E. McDermott

Librarian, Crowell Public Library, San Marino, California

Author of The Internet Book of Life


‘Many people reading about the Holocaust are unaware that the Holocaust  was the end of a thousand years of Jewish history in Poland. To them it begins in 1939 and ends with 1945.Your book is exceptional… It was of great interest to me’.

Leon W. Wells, author of Janowska Road.


This anthology, which could be subtitled “Beyond Tevye,” gives a broad picture of life in Poland from the late 19th century to contemporary times. Divided into three chronological sections which basically cover the pre-war, Holocaust, and post-war time periods, this collection contains stories, essays, letters, poems, memoirs and other literary forms. The topics cover many aspects of daily life and life cycle events as well as politics and war.

The thoroughly charming poem “Olke” by Kadya Molodowsky follows a girl through her day as her parents take turns yelling at her to finish a long list of chores. But each time she begins one, her imagination takes her spinning off on an adventure. In the short story, “ The Teacher Reb Mendele” by Lili Berger, a student becomes convinced that her gentle teacher is the famous Mendele Mocher Seforim. The reader’s foreknowledge about the fate of Janusz Korczak, makes Israel Zyngman’s momoir about “ My First day in the Orphanage” especially poignant. The stories continue, running the gamut from wistful to heartbreaking  to brave. Hava Ben-Zvi, a long time member of AJL, has provided a note giving biographical information about the author and the context of each piece and a very informative introduction. A few changes would have make this excellent collection even stronger. While she aims to document the presence of Jews in Poland for the past thousand years, the selections really just focus on the past 150 years. It would also have been helpful to include a map or at least to describe which boundaries she was using.

This Finalist for the National Jewish Book Award is highly recommended.

Sheryl Stahl

Senior Associate Librarian, Frances-Henry Library, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion, Los Angeles.

Association of Jewish Libraries, Reviews, February-March 2012.

‘The Jews of Poland’

San Marino Holocaust survivor to discuss new Polish Jewish anthology

Posted:   01/26/2012 11:31:12 PM PST

Hava Bromberg Ben-Zvi will discuss her book, “Portraits in Literature: The Jews of Poland, An Anthology” on Sunday at the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center. The book is a collection of 56 short stories, eyewitness accounts, poetry, essays, folk tales and humor. (Walt Mancini / Staff Photographer)

SAN MARINO – When Hava Bromberg Ben-Zvi’s father was fatally shot by Nazis in 1941, the blond, blue-eyed Jewish girl had to fend for herself under an assumed identity in Nazi-occupied Eastern Poland.

The same day the Nazis rounded up and killed the remaining Jews in her village, the 12-year-old sought shelter at a friend’s home for the day and then wandered from village to village. She was directed to an orphanage, where a sympathetic director took her in for about two years and then sent her to a nearby farm, where she remained until the war’s end.

More than six decades later, the San Marino resident’s latest book “Portraits in Literature: The Jews of Poland, an Anthology” is her three-year effort to preserve the rich literature of Polish Jewry before, during and after World War II while bringing it to the attention of a new generation of readers.

“Poland was the center of Jewish civilization in the world before WWII,” Ben-Zvi said, noting there were about 3.5 million Jews in Poland before the war and about 3 million Polish Jews killed during the Holocaust. “Nobody except New York had that many Jews … Their literature is their legacy.”

Ben-Zvi, who served as director of the Jewish Community Library of Los Angeles for 27 years, will discuss the book she edited and compiled at 10:15 a.m. Sunday at the Pasadena Jewish Temple and Center.

The book – a finalist in the prestigious 2011 National Jewish Book Awards – is a collection of 56 short stories, eyewitness accounts, poetry, essays, folk tales and humor from a variety of Polish Jews from the 1800s to the present. Published in July by Vallentine-Mitchell in London, it includes both fiction and nonfiction pieces she found in libraries in the U.S. and Israel that are accompanied by Ben-Zvi’s own astute observations.Selecting the writings was not an easy task since Polish Jews were quite literate and prolific, she said.

“I needed stories that truly reflected their conditions, their problems, their joys and sorrows,” she said. “I didn’t just pick any story. A story to me had to speak to the heart.”

Among the writings selected were novelist’s Sholem Asch’s short story “The Rebel” about a young Jewish bride who scandalizes her family by refusing to cut off her hair at the time of her marriage as was customary. Another is called “The Polish Wife” by Anna Cwiakowska. It’s a short story about a Polish Jewish man and his Catholic wife who immigrate to Israel to start a new life after facing persecution in the 1960s.

The book also includes Philip Friedman’s “Their Brothers’ Keepers,” which details several true accounts of non-Jews who took extraordinary measures to protect their Jewish neighbors from death during the Holocaust.

Ben-Zvi dedicated her book to her late husband of nearly 60 years, Ephraim, a Polish Jew who also survived the war after his family was exiled to Siberia in 1941. The two met in Israel in while she was a high school student and he was in college.

Ben-Zvi has also authored “Eva’s Journey: A Young Girl’s True Story” and “The Bride Who Argued with God: Tales from the Treasury of Jewish Folklore.”


Hava Bromberg Ben-Zvi, ed. Portraits in Literature: The Jews of Poland: An Anthology. Portland: Vallentine Mitchell, 2011. 380 pp. $74.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-85303-873-3.

Reviewed by Justine Pas (Lindenwood University)

Published on H-Judaic (May, 2012)

Commissioned by Jason Kalman

Images of Polish Jewish Literature

In her introduction to Portraits in Literature: The Jews of Poland, Hava Bromberg Ben-Zvi writes that “Jewish literature and culture did not perish from the face of the earth. Inherited and transformed by a new generation of writers, it was reborn, changed and enriched, finding new configurations, images and expressions” (p. xxxv). This sense of homage to a literature and culture of Polish Jews permeates the entire anthology, beginning with Bromberg Ben-Zvi’s essay on the historical context of Jewish life in Poland and ending with selections from writers like Anna Cwiakowska, who continues to write and publish in Polish in Israel. Hailing the cultural and literary continuity as the central idea of her collection, Bromberg Ben-Zvi’s anthology offers a diverse cross-section of Polish Jewish literature, including memoirs, fiction, and poetry. While the selections appear in English, they originate in a multilingual Polish Jewish milieu and include authors who wrote in Yiddish and English, like Abraham Cahan, and Polish-language writers like Janusz Korczak, as well as those like poet Itzhak Katzenelson, who wrote in Hebrew and switched to Yiddish in response to the German invasion of Poland. Bromberg Ben-Zvi’s editorial selections are thus an excellent representation of what literary scholars and historians have acknowledged as modern Jewish multilingualism. Aside from its linguistic diversity, the volume brings together a remarkable variety of authors and genres, reminding us of the stunning breadth and quality of Polish Jewish literary output.

Portraits in Literature is divided into three major sections, each devoted to a particular time in Polish Jewish history and literature. The first, “Our World of Yesterday,” contains seventeen selections of prose and poetry, beginning with fragments of Sholem Asch’s novels. As Bromberg Ben-Zvi points out, while Asch defended himself throughout his life against charges of fostering anti-Semitism for his so-called Christological novels, he should be read and remembered for his sensitive and sympathetic portrayals of Jewish women, whose lives he depicted “with deep understanding, sensitivity sympathy, without minimizing the pressures and values of the times” (p. 10). In fact, and perhaps not entirely by accident on Bromberg Ben-Zvi’s part, the two fragments from Asch’s Children of Abraham (1942) set the tone for the collection as a whole, in that they portray female characters as active agents of their fate, who struggle against traditional prescripts, while attempting to remain part of their respective Jewish communities. This first part also includes a subsection titled “Polish Voices,” with four selections, two from fiction writers (Maria Konopnicka and Eliza Orzeszkowa) and two from Nina Luszczyk-Ilienkowa, whose autobiographical reminiscences about prewar life, translated by Bromberg Ben-Zvi, appear in English for the first time. The remaining two sections, “Years of Flame and Fury” and “To Live Again,” echo the first part’s focus on women and continue to represent powerful female characters, as well as women writers and memoirists who all took an active part in Jewish political, social, and literary life.

The second part of the collection, which focuses on the Holocaust years (“Years of Flame and Fury”) is subdivided into four shorter sections: “The Ghettos,” “Children,” “Resistance,” and “Other Voices: Testimonies of Those Who Helped.” These sections include thirty selections of prose and poetry about those who perished, those who survived, and those who helped during the Holocaust. As in “Our World of Yesterday,” female authors and characters are also prominently featured. For example, “Rosa Robota,” a biographical vignette by Yuri Suhl, poet, writer, and author of the seminal 1967 They Fought Back: The Story of Jewish Resistance in Nazi Europe, tells the story of the hero who supplied the Auschwitz resistance with dynamite from the German factories where she and other young women were forced to labor. As Suhl tells us, when the Germans came upon the trail of the explosives and arrested Robota along with three other female prisoners (Esther, Ella, and Regina), the four, despite hours of torture, revealed nothing of the plot or others involved in it. These brave women paid for their resistance with their lives. Similarly, “Little Wanda with Braids,” also by Yuri Suhl, tells the story of Niuta Twitelboim (underground name, “Wanda”), who carried out many of the most dangerous missions against the Germans in Warsaw. As Suhl writes, “Wanda became a legendary name throughout Poland, a symbol of fearless resistance to the German occupation forces” (p. 189). Twitelboim was tortured and executed by the Gestapo in 1943. On the second anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, the Polish government honored her memory with the highest medal for valor in battle. This powerful section can be perhaps best summarized by a fragment from a selection titled “Jewish Resistance in the Warsaw Ghetto,” by Vladka Meed, who published one of the first eyewitness accounts of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. At the end of her tribute, Meed writes that “What must be remembered is that, throughout the Holocaust, every Jew in his or her own way resisted the Nazis; each act of resistance was shaped by its unique time and place” (p. 223). In this section, Bromberg Ben-Zvi gives ample evidence of just such a resistance. Whether it is the well-known story of Janusz Korczak, who voluntarily accompanied the children of his orphanage to their deaths, or the lesser known voices of children in the Warsaw Ghetto, like eight-year-old Natasha, who wrote poems about her experiences, the section testifies to the powerful and sustained Polish Jewish resistance to the German destruction.

While illustrating the continued Polish Jewish literary creativity in the aftermath of World War II, the third and last part of Bromberg Ben-Zvi’s Portraits in Literature, “To Live Again,” includes nine selections. The section is, however, somewhat confusing because it includes material published both before and after the war. There are, for example, two fragments from Abraham Cahan’s famous The Rise of David Levinsky, published in New York in 1917, as well as three poems by Morris Rosenfeld, one of the best-known Yiddish poets who lived in the United States before the start of World War II. Most appropriately, these selections belong in the first section of the anthology, since the volume is organized chronologically. The section is also far too short, with only nine selections, and an absence of authors such as Hanna Krall, Irena Klepfisz, Eva Hoffman, Jadwiga Maurer, Ida Fink, or Henryk Grynberg, to name but a few. It is possible, as Bromberg Ben-Zvi intimates in her introduction, that she had difficulty obtaining copyright permissions for some of the more contemporary texts. As she explains, she had to make choices based not only on “authenticity” of characters, situations, and relationships within Jewish and Polish Jewish communities, but also on much more mundane and pragmatic grounds: “the availability of copyright heirs and the cost of permissions” (p. xxxv). Perhaps the most notable inclusion in this section is that of an author little known in English, Anna Cwiakowska, whose short story “The Polish Wife” (originally published in 1999 in Zony i inne opowiadania [The Polish Wife and Other Stories]) concludes the pages of the anthology. In 1968, Cwiakowska emigrated from Poland to Israel, where she has continued to publish novels, essays, and short stories. Bromberg Ben-Zvi translated the story from the Polish and its intricacy and uniqueness should certainly spark English-speaking scholars’ interest in Cwiakowska’s writings.

Bromberg Ben-Zvi’s anthology provides a rich resource for literary and women’s studies scholars as well as historians. It is a resource that provides samples of many valuable texts and, perhaps even more importantly, directs readers to further study through the bibliographic and biographical notes at the end of each of the selections. Even if such an anthology could rightly contain multiple volumes, Bromberg Ben-Zvi has gone a long way in recapturing and preserving “the memory of a rich life that is no more” (p. xxxv). One of its main strengths, aside from the selection of distinctive texts and emphasis on Jewish life and creativity in Poland, is the volume’s foregrounding of stories by women and about female characters before, during, and after World War II. Most importantly, the book emphasizes the rich and long history of Polish Jewish literature and particularly its rebirth in the aftermath of World War II. It is indeed undoubtedly true, as Bromberg Ben-Zvi’s Portraits in Literature: The Jews of Poland powerfully illustrates, that Polish Jewish culture did not perish, but changed and found new avenues of expression.


A Letter from Harriet Rochlin

Scholar specializing in Jewish history in the American West and an author of many books.

April 14, 2013

Re: Portraits in Literature: The Jews of Poland

Dear Hava,

I’ve tried to write to you several times since I began to read Portraits. Shortly
after completing your truly remarkable twelve-page introduction to some seven
centuries of Jewish life in Poland, I started a letter to you. My aim was to
tell you that your introduction explained why my father, Moise Shapiro, who
spent his first seventeen years in Brest Litovsk, never uttered a word about
his birthplace. Renaming himself Mike, he regularly raved about the wonders
of Los Angeles, even during the Great Depression and two bankruptcies.

I never found the words to fully express my admiration for your thorough introduction:
the outsider role assigned, with individual acts of inclusion cited, as well
as that unforgettable final figure- dead or fled, all but three percent. Charmed
by The Wedding Night, an excerpt from a novel by Israel Joshua Singer, I thought
I’d pick out a few pieces and comment on each. As you probably recall, it concerns
the forced marriage of Malkah, a young orphan girl, to an aged Hassidic rabbi
with thousands of followers. In the hands of a master, she’s no ordinary poor
orphan, she’s a spitfire who eludes the old rabbi’s efforts to force her to

But there were so many wonderful short stories, excerpts from novels,
memoirs, articles and essays. And all judiciously chosen. Males and females,
married and single, traditionalists, reformers, working class, business people,
professionals, authors, artists, rabbis–together, they defy demeaning stereotypes.
In so doing, you memorialized the innumerable Jews who absorbed Polish culture
and language, and in the process, became, overtly or unwittingly, Polish Jews.

Many, my father among them, fled in the early twentieth century. The majority
of those who remained eventually were slaughtered, or in relatively small numbers,
like you, Hava, concealed their Jewish identity and survived.

You undoubtedly dedicated years to gathering, editing, and assembling this book, and in so doing preserved a genuine Jewish presence in Poland. With heartfelt gratitude and
admiration, I thank you. You’ve given this daughter of a Polish Jew an entirely
new perspective on a multi- faceted heritage she never knew she had.

I admire your work enormously,



Students Learn From and Inspire a Holocaust Survivor

Over the years I’ve had the opportunity to develop a friendship with Hava Ben-Zvi, a survivor of the Holocaust, who has spoken to many of our Facing History classes. Hava is one of my heroes, not just for her story of survival and resilience as a young girl hiding from the Nazis in Poland. She is my hero because even though her education was interrupted during the war, she went on to immigrate to Israel, and then the U.S. where she became an educator, and a librarian.  She wrote a memoir of her experience, Eva’s Journey, and in her 80s she published, Portraits in Literature: The Jews of Poland, an Anthology, which was a finalist for the National Jewish Book Award.

Have_Ben_Zvi_cropped_0Most of all, I love Hava’s generous spirit with students. Last year, she visited Nicole Solig’s 10th grade class at the Los Angeles School of Global Studies, (LASGS) across the street from our office in downtown. When she tells her story, you can see the teacher in Hava coming through, the way she engages with the students, asking THEM questions and listening so carefully to their responses. A few weeks after the LASGS visit, I received a letter in the mail from Hava, which she has given me permission to share. It sums up what happens when students are given the tools, trust and time to wrestle with this history:

April 8, 2012

Dear LASGS 10th Graders,

Thank you so much for your thoughtful, impressive letters. Each one of your precious letters is a testimony to who you are and will be. Many of your words and expressions warmed my heart:

Hava letter to LASGS

That one hour visit was the spark of an ongoing reflection about Hava’s story, and her engagement with the students. This fall one of our themes has been the act of listening, and I can’t think of a better example of what happens when people truly listen to each other–the students to Hava, and her gift back to them of hearing what they had to say.

How do you bring voices from history to your students–both in person and through other means?

Hava is featured in our Survivor Voices section that includes photos from her life, connections and more.


Hava Ben-Zvi is a retired librarian. She lives in California. Write to her at hava.benzvi@att.net Portraits in Literature Compiled and Edited by Hava Bromberg Ben-Zvi ISBN: 9780853038733 Cloth, 320 pp. $74.95; paper, $34.95 Publisher: Vallentine Mitchell, London (UK) June 2011 http://www.vmbooks.com/

To arrange for programs please contact the author at hava.benzvi@att.net or call 626-799-3133.

May be ordered through:

Lenny Gerson, Marketing & Sales

Direct number: (503) 546-4935

ISBS: International Specialized Book Services

920 NE 58th Ave. Suite 300, Portland, OR 97213, USA

Tel: 1-800-944-6190 / +1 (503) 287-3093   Fax: +1 (503) 280-8832



Subjects: History, Jewish studies, Holocaust studies, Polish studies, cultural studies, literary criticism.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s