Drawings by Miriam Isaacs to go along with her memoir about Mengele

Moment Memoir | Shame, Names and the Mengele Tractor Factory

I learned about the Mengele tractor factory in 1981 when I was trying to get from Denmark to Italy by rail. I simply could not avoid Germany, so I decided to book a sleeper car and sleep my way through. It was my very first time there since my parents and I left the Displaced Persons camp when I was a toddler. I woke up and I went out to the corridor to look out the window and see where I was, really hoping to be in Italy. But I could tell I was still in Germany, for in the middle of a bucolic meadow stood a tractor with “MENGELE” printed in large letters. My heart almost stopped. I couldn’t breathe. The conductor stood beside me and smiled. Mengele. I remember the name from my childhood....

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Memoir | A Jewish Heart Divided

The traffic noise on Arlozorov Street, in the heart of Tel Aviv, seemed unusually loud that October evening. Leaning over the railing of my friend Shoshana’s balcony, I watched with concern as a flood of cars and trucks rushed past below. It was Yom Kippur Eve, 1973. We had expected the street to be deserted since virtually everything in the country was closed. But with rising alarm, we realized that the drivers were almost all men, and many were dressed in army fatigues. They were clearly reservists in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF), on their way to an unknown battlefront. Even before we heard the announcement on the radio several hours later, we knew that war was imminent, and we were tense and anxious.  By the next morning, Shoshana and I had learned the awful news:...

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Beshert | When Cats Fly

“Your cat is in business class.” Startled, I looked up from my magazine and regarded the flight attendant. She couldn’t mean my cat, who was asleep in her carrier under the seat in front of me. “You must have the wrong passenger,” I said. “Mine’s right here.” I pulled the cat carrier into view. The zipper was open. The cat was gone.  “Oh God,” I said. “How did…?” The flight attendant scolded me for letting her out. “I didn’t let her out! She was asleep! It was zipped! I gave her a sedative in the car!” She didn’t believe me. “Just go get your cat.” I jumped up and ran into business class ahead of her. Panicked, I reasoned that my sedated animal would be moving at a drunk’s pace. There she was, groggily skulking the length of...

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Still from Unorthodox

Dressing “Unorthodox”: An Interview with Justine Seymour

Tall and blonde with a striking English accent, her height only slightly less discernible over video call, Seymour spoke to Editorial Fellow Lilly Gelman over Zoom from her apartment in Berlin. She explained how she felt a “heartfelt yearning” for the show since she herself was raised in a religious cult and thrown out at the age of 16. But while she felt an emotional connection to Esty and her story, Seymour’s personal life did not influence her design work, which, she says is based purely on observation and character development. 

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The First and Final Nightmare

By Symi Rom-Rymer When 69 year-old Sonia Reich ran out of her Skokie home late one February evening in 2001, no one knew why.  Insisting that a man was trying to “put a bullet in my head,” she refused to go home. This anecdote opens the haunting book, “The First and Final Nightmare of Sonia Reich” by Chicago Tribune Jazz critic Howard Reich. Holocaust memoirs have conventionally ended in 1945 with survivors emerging from the years of darkness and terror, hardened but resolute. Reich’s hybrid memoir/biography, however, is part of a growing trend of books by children of Holocaust survivors who explore what happens next.  The end of the war seemed to give his mother a sense freedom and even allow her to achieve modest prosperity.  She arrived in the United States in 1947 at 16 years...

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