Janet R. Kirchheimer
New York, CLAL, National Jewish Center for Learning and Leadership, 2007
How to Spot One of Us, by Janet R. Kirchheimer is a collection of over 80 poems inspired by her family’s tragedy in the Holocaust. Honoring their memory, she provides a moving tribute to the powers of faith and hope for the future.
Calling it a “little miracle of a book” in his introduction, Rabbi Irving “Yitz” Greenberg, Chairman Emeritus of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council and CLAL founder, writes that while it “presents itself as poetry . . . it is really Scriptural narrative.” Evoking images of the unimaginable while offering a legacy of love, Kirchheimer, the daughter of survivors, provides a new way to remember, with lessons for generations to come.
In his foreword of this hauntingly beautiful new book, CLAL President Rabbi Irwin Kula quotes Theodor Adorno that, “poetry after the Holocaust would be a barbaric act,” but that Kirchheimer proves that it can be “a holy act.” A respected poet and CLAL’s Director of Community Development, Kirchheimer takes the mundane experiences ? a picnic at the beach, a doctor’s check up, a walk into a pizza parlor ? and jolts us, changing our lives. Through her stories ? of her maternal grandmother, Oma Strauss, who bought her mother red Mary Jane shoes on the way home from the American Consulate, or the boys’ choir of the Levetzowstrasse shul ? she creates a new hard reality, reverential, but with no simple catharsis. Yet, even in the face of true evil, she invites readers with a fierce grace to preserve their humanity and faith.