kosher bookworm: alan jay gerber

A Holocaust survivor’s legacy


For Holocaust survivor Israel Starck, the geographic chasm between Auschwitz and Cedarhurst was experienced last week in his heartfelt Yom HaShoah address to the middle school students at the Shulamith School for Girls in Cedarhurst. 

Last summer in Israel, I met Starck —  whose experiences are detailed in his recently published book, “A Boy Named 68818” (Feldheim, 2015) — through the good offices of the distinguished graphic artist, Kim Glassman. I glean from him and his daughter and co-author, Miriam Starck Miller, the basic themes and purposes of this unique work.

“Do you want to read a true and riveting story?” Miller asked. “Are you interested in vignettes from the Holocaust? Are you a parent who’s searching for reading material that imparts desirable values and character traits to your impressionable adolescent? Are you an educator who is interested in teaching World War II history? Jewish History? Humanitarian studies? Are you a therapist who is looking for a resource to help a client with the challenges of adversity, human vices or relationships? Are you a reader who appreciates graphic or pictorial material to fully analyze a subject?”

A positive response to any of those questions is an open invitation to consider this book as your next read. By using Starck as the springboard, we follow the journey that is a rich account of a life that spans the years before, during, and after WWII, beginning in Podhorany, Munkacs (in western Ukraine), witnessing the terrors of the Holocaust, and culminating in Chicago.

What motivated Miller to devote over four years to prepare this book, in which she tell us of her father’s experiences, and the uniqueness of his life’s journey?

“First, my love and admiration for my father,” she told me. “Also to give voice to my father. He has something very important to say.”

It was important to Miller to tell her father’s story “appropriately.”

“What do I mean by ‘appropriately’,” she continues. “Consider the following:

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