On April 6, a small group gathered at Jewish Family & Career Services to participate in a Partnership 2Gether discussion of the book Our Holocaust by Amir Gutfreund. They joined participants from Toledo, OH; Des Moines, IA; and Israel via Webex.
Gutfreund, who lives in the Western Galilee, spent a good portion of the time talking about his book, which he described as an amalgamation of real experiences from his past and imagination.
One of the underlying precepts of the book is the “law of compression.” Most Holocaust survivors who came to Israel after the war had very few relatives who survived, but there was an intense need and desire for family. According to the “law of compression” families adopted other in similar situation to be their de facto families.
As an example, Gutfreund told a story about his father. “When he and my mother wanted to get married,” Gutfreund said, “they didn’t have anybody to send invitations to, so they” created their own family through the “law of compression.”
Growing up as the child of Holocaust survivors, he explained, there were some unusual things. “My parents couldn’t throw out food – even moldy bread or sour milk.” The always found some way to use it, even if it was just feeding it to the animals.
There were also things that were hidden from the children and some people, who even when their children were adults, who just couldn’t share their stories. Gutfreund said that he asked his mother many questions and wanted to understand what happened to her, but his mother never said a word about her experience.
There were clues, however. His mother hated ants and wouldn’t tolerate them in her house. Finally, his father explained. Gutfreund’s mother and her mother were in the forest with the partisans were in the forest when they were ambushed. The partisans fled and only Gutfreund’s mother, who was a child, was left behind. Her mother returned for her and was shot and killed. The child fell asleep in her mother’s arms, and when she awoke, her mother was dead, bloody and covered in ants.
His father, on the other hand was open about his experiences and Gutfreund explained he escaped death by a miracle seven times.
Gutfreund shared other experiences and opened the floor for questions.
The Partnership book sharing is one of many Partnership 2Gether activities that connect people to people in the fields of medicine, arts, education, co-existence, leadership development, culture, business development, economics, tourism and more.
Louisville has been active in Partnership since its establishment in 1997, and today is part of the Central Area Consortium of Communities that also includes Akron, Canton, Dayton, Toledo and Youngstown, OH; Indianapolis, Northwest Indiana and South Bend, IN; Louisville; Des Moines, IA; Omaha, NE; and Austin, Dallas and San Antonio TX.
These consortium cities partner with Israel’s Western Galilee area that includes the city of Akko, the Western Galilee Hospital and the rural communities of the Matte Asher Regional Council along the Mediterranean Sea.
Partnership is supported by the Jewish Federation of Louisville Campaign.
For more information on Partnership 2Gether, contact JCC Senior Vice President COO Sara Wagner at 238-2779 or firstname.lastname@example.org.