The work on my family story helped me gain insight into issues I did not encounter when I grew up and they remained unspoken and therefore unresolved. This situation is not unique to my family, as can be seen by a multitude of books and films in the past 3-4 decades, where authors and film creators are dealing with their families’ past and discovering facts initially unknown to them. The idea of concealing traumatic issues during the time I grew up has changed to a philosophy of openness and transparency about them. The information technologies that developed were another factor in aiding to uncover the past.
In concrete terms, this work has helped not just me but also members of my immediate and extended family members to gain insight into their roots.
But it went far beyond that. Two of my children have taken the family story (or aspects of it) and turned them into artistic creations: My son Yuval, a film-maker, has documented a family trip to Germany in 2013 and turned it into a personal statement about memory and remembering. The film, “It’s Harder for Yekkes” has been shown in Film Festivals and other occasions.
My daughter Hadas, an author, has turned the story of Siegfried Lewin, the blind brother of my grandmother who worked at the Otto Weidt workshop, into a children’s book entitled Brooms Dancing in the Winter.
Another important development emanating from this work has been my decision to remember all the relatives who were killed or forced to leave Germany by the Nazis in the form of Stolpersteine at the entrances to their last residences in Berlin. This endeavor has been tremendously helped by a most inspiring association: Sie Waren Nachbarn (they were neighbors), composed of volunteers in the Moabit neighborhood in Berlin. This group took upon itself the task of remembering the former Jewish (and other “enemies of the regime”) residents of Moabit and are doing it in a variety of activities in a most remarkable way. Our family owes them immensely.
In the final analysis and in summary I would say that this whole project helped me better understand who I am.