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November 22, 2002 - Image 110

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2002-11-22

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out an Auschwitz or Treblinka."
Heller wants to communicate that peo-
ple do not have to be bystanders in hor-
anya Gottesfeld Heller
rendous times and that there's still some
always keeps a piece of bread good to be found in the midst of evil.
in her purse. A Holocaust
She speaks with students at all levels
survivor who went on to
from elementary school to college, and
personal and professional successes in
her book is in the curriculum at many
America, she can never fully leave
schools, including Princeton
behind her teenage years of hiding and
University, Yale University and Israel's
groveling for food in Poland.
Bar Ilan University.
Heller retains an innate fear she's
Heller's first goal in writing was to let
going to face starvation again even
her children know who she was and
though she and her late husband eventu- why she was overprotective with them.
ally were able to provide for
Her second was to
themselves and their three
encourage others to
children and she was able to
keep on going and dia-
earn a master's degree in
logue across religious
psychology, write a book,
and other boundaries.
support Jewish projects and
"My children knew I
lecture around the world.
was saved by Christians,
Among Heller's most
but they didn't know
satisfying experiences is
the whole story," says
relating to young people
Heller, who ultimately
— first through her auto-
underwent therapy to
biography, Strange &
overcome the issues that
Unexpected Love: A Teenage
remained after World
Girl's Holocaust Memories
War II.
(KTAV Publishing House;
"I think they bond-
$16.95), and later through Heller's autobiography is
ed with me more after
talking about the dangers
included in the Holocaust reading the book, but
she confronted and con-
curriculum of many colleges. some survivors were
necting them to the diffi-
very upset with me
cult problems others must face.
because I discussed sexuality."
Heller, who survived with the help
Heller describes in detail the affair she
of a family friend and a militiaman in
had with the gentile militiaman who
love with her, soon will bring messages shielded her and how she grew to love
of triumph to Michigan by addressing
him even knowing he was a collabora-
a Hillel audience in Ann Arbor. She
tor. She also talks about another young
will be part of the organization's
woman forced into an unwanted affair
fourth annual Kristallnacht commem-
with a Nazi in order to hold on to life.
oration on Monday, Nov. 25.
The author, even after therapy, con-
tinues to be haunted by the actions of
her grandfather. Although she knew
Rising From The Ashes
him as a good man before the chaos of
"I will talk about Jewish life before the
battle, she has to cope with also know-
war and the rampant anti-Semitism
ing he turned in his wife and family
even before Hitler, our relationship
members to the Nazis, wrongly think-
with Christians, women's issues over
ing this would save his own life.
the years and how good people can
"Therapy was the beginning of my
react adver s ely just to stay alive anoth-
healing," she says. "I cannot change
er minute," says Heller, 78.
the world, but I can do a little bit."
"I think of myself as a role model
because I show one woman's power to
Returning To Religion
come from the ashes and find a new life.
I come from the killing fields, where
Heller, whose book is in its third print-
people were murdered on the spot with-
ing, hopes to have her story released

Special to the Jewish News


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