Crime & Punishment

What It Means To Survive

The story that struck my heart most in today's program was our Faith Matters interview with the authors of "Bending Toward the Sun." It's a memoir written by Leslie Gilbert-Lurie, a lawyer and former television executive, and her mother Rita Lurie, a Holocaust survivor.

The two women and Leslie's daughter, Mikaela, joined Michel to talk about the book, and how Rita Lurie's experience during the war affected the family for generations. The book took ten years to pull together, and the family's experience sheds a unique light on what it means to survive.

The matriarch, Rita, had hidden from the Nazis from 1942 to 1944 in an attic of a Catholic family in Poland. She was just 5 -years-old when she and more than a dozen relatives began living there. The confinement left Rita nearly mute, a consequence of having to remain silent to avoid detection. The cramped space didn't allow for much movement, so after they left, Rita also had difficulty walking. And the physical hardship was nothing compared the psychological trauma she endured. During those years, Rita watched first her younger brother then her mother die in that attic.

Here's Leslie, reading an excerpt from the book:

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Decades later, Leslie Gilbert Lurie finally begins to understand how — despite her mother's best efforts — the sense of fear that scarred Rita's life after the Holocaust had affected her own American childhood, and was influencing the way she raised her daughter Mikaela.

Here's 14-year-old Mikaela reading an excerpt:

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The story of how this family found the strength to sustain itself, and share even the most wrenching moments of its collective history, makes for a haunting read and a compelling interview.

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