Remembering my Grandparents on International Holocaust Remembrance Day

Today is International Holocaust Remembrance Day, a memorial day set to commemorate the victims of the Holocaust. On this very day in 1945, Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated. My grandparents were both Holocaust survivors and my grandmother was an Auschwitz survivor. Here she is pictured below after the war with my new born mom. "The Number on Her Arm" was written in honor of my grandmother and it shows her incredible spirit, zest for life, and passion for family. Despite the horrors she endured, she lived her life without resentment and bitterness and she lived her life for her family, my grandfather was exactly the same way. While my grandparents are sadly no longer with me, today and everyday I think of how amazing it is that they survived the horrors they endured while in concentration camps. I also think of the many family members they had that I would never know who unfortunately were not so lucky. Please take a moment today to think of the victims and the survivors, like my grandparents. Also consider telling their stories so that their experiences and memories can live on forever. #neverforget

2015 Reflections from "The Number on Her Arm"

I know "The Number on Her Arm" hasn't been out a full year yet, but I still wanted to take some time to reflect on the amazing accomplishments we've made since launching in 2015 before 2016 hits. So please enjoy "The Number on Her Arm's" 2015 Top Ten List!

10 copies sold to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum
978-0-692-47882-0 (our ISBN # making us an official book)
8 months prepping-editing, formatting, printing, networking
732 followers on Facebook
6 speaking events secured for 2016
500 copies printed (thank you PrintNinja!)
4 speaking events in 2015
3 interviews (thanks and WDDE 91.1)
2 exceptional artists who made the book beautiful
1 special set of grandparents who inspired this book

Happy almost 2016 everyone! Here's to even more accomplishments and dreams fulfilled in 2016. Thank you for believing in this little book with a big message.

PS I know it's been wayyy too long since I've posted a blog, I promise to remedy this in the New Year :)

DIY Courtesy of "The Number on Her Arm"

Happy weekend everyone!

Things have been coming along really well for The Number on Her Arm since I introduced it to social media only about a month ago. While self-publishing is great in that I have total control over the process of coming out with my book, I'd be lying if I didn't mention that it also invokes some vulnerability. Since I am promoting my book without the help of an agent or publishing company, the marketing and outreach work is left solely to me. I have to trust in the powers of social media as well as the people I meet along the way to help spread the word. I have to represent myself so that organizations, bookstores, etc. will want me to share my book and in turn tell my grandmother's story.

Yet, with all the insecurities this process can bring to the surface, so far I've been blown away by the positive response The Number on Her Arm has already received (and the printed copies have not even come out yet)! Through family, friends, and the kindness of interested strangers, somehow our Facebook page already has 570 "likes" (maybe you can help me get to 600??)! We are starting to have a slow and steady Twitter presence and I've been making incredible connections with many local organizations in the Washington, D.C area. I can't wait to fill you in on more in the coming weeks. I am especially looking forward to telling you when that large box of printed book copies comes knocking at my door!

Grandma's Unveiling in Canada

Hello all! It's been a while since I last posted but last week and weekend were a bit of a whirlwind. My family and I drove up to Canada for my Grandmother's (this is the same grandmother that The Number on Her Arm is based on) unveiling service in Toronto on Sunday, and then drove back home again to D.C. on Monday.  Although 10+ hours in the car each way over such a short span of time is definitely a bit draining, the trip itself was a great success. The weather was absolutely beautiful all weekend; I got to spend extended periods of time with my Uncle, Aunt, and three first cousins; I went on fun outings around Toronto with very close family friends who live there; and my husband and four year old nephew got to experience Toronto for the first time as well as meet my Canadian family members.

Aside from the memorable experiences visiting Toronto, I'd have to say the actual experience of my grandmother's unveiling service proved to be the most memorable. While I had been to the cemetery where my grandmother and my grandfather are buried back in January for her funeral, I did not notice at the time that my grandparents are buried at a cemetery where many groups of Holocaust survivors and their families are also buried. Both my grandparents were originally from Poland and this cemetery has several memorials for families members who either survived or were lost in the Holocaust, all organized by town.  My grandparents' last name was Gorewicz (my grandmother's maiden name was Blum) and a huge memorial in the cemetery listed about 10 other Gorewicz family members who did not survive during the Holocaust.

In addition, it was incredibly moving to see my grandparents' headstones joined together as one; they are finally back together again after having been apart for so long. I got the chance to decorate their headstones with stones I brought from home which were actually from my wedding three years ago. In Judaism, it is customary to place stones on headstones while visiting loved ones as opposed to leaving flowers, cards, or trinkets. At my wedding, guests received stones to sign and leave well wishes instead of writing them in an official guestbook. Three years later, I still have a huge box of unused stones in my closet, so my grandparents were finally able to experience a special part of my wedding which they were unfortunately unable to attend.  

Even more powerful was the fact that the back of my grandparents' gravestone officially honored them as Holocaust survivors and also paid tribute to their family members that were not so lucky. 

It is never easy to be at a cemetery and visit relatives who you wish were still walking alongside you. However, I take solace in knowing that my grandparents and many of their family members are together again, getting the honor and respect they so well deserve.

After about a week and  a half of back and forth, tweaking proofs with the printing company I chose to print The Number on Her Arm, as of this morning, we officially went to press. Grandma and Grandpa, I'm working hard to make sure many, many more people can honor you...and soon.



That Which Cannot Be Erased...

It's possible that the inspiration to write The Number on Her Arm started brewing all the way back in High School. I remember in 10th grade Social Studies class we studied World War II extensively with a unit on the Holocaust as part of that study. I don't think there was ever an instance of me raising my hand and announcing to the class, "Hey, my Grandparents are Holocaust survivors!" However, I do remember being overcome by  inspiration to honor my grandparents when I was given the homework assignment of writing a fictional or nonfictional piece connected to World War II.

I remember knowing that I wanted to write a poem connected to my grandparents' experiences, but I hadn't really thought about what I would write prior to the time I worked on the assignment.  I remember sitting down to write the night before the assignment was due and staring at a blank Word Document for quite some time. What's particularly amazing and memorable about that night is that after that period of blankness, suddenly, without any hesitation, the following poem about my grandmother poured out of me until it was completed. Click the following link below to read the poem...  


It's clear that even though I've always been motivated to collectively honor both of my grandparents' experiences during the Holocaust, the image of my grandmother's tattoo has always been embedded in my mind. Her number continuously incites the need for me to tell her story. Back in 10th grade I was lucky enough to be able to personally give my grandparents a copy of this poem. I truly wish that I could give them both copies of The Number on Her Arm today.



The History of "The Number on Her Arm"

Hello and welcome to the blog portion of The Number on Her Arm! I am very excited to be blogging while going through the process of publishing and promoting this book. I have long wanted to have a blog and find that I now have the perfect venue in which to steadily write, a long-held dream of mine. I want to use this space to write about a number of elements pertaining to the book, not limited to the content of the book itself. I want to blog about Holocaust education, thoughts and reflections I may have after book readings and events, and I'd also like to blog about the process of self-publishing a book. I'd additionally love for this blog to be a forum in which I can chat with others who have similar connections, thoughts, and experiences relating to these topics.

I thought I'd start out this first blog post by giving you a history of how The Number on Her Arm came to be and why I chose to write a Holocaust book for children. I initially wrote The Number on Her Arm in 2013 during my final semester in a graduate program for teaching. As the final project for a Children's Literature course I was taking, all graduate students had to write a children's book. The Number on Her Arm was written as a tribute to my grandparents, both Holocaust survivors who endured innumerable atrocities as prisoners at concentration camps. While their survival during that unspeakable time period is amazing in and of itself, what I always found even more amazing about them was their continuous ability to be positive, selfless, and humble. They never had any issues talking about their experiences and they lived their life for others, never once pitying themselves or the nightmares from their past. I wrote this book not only to pay homage to their incredible spirits and altruistic natures, but to also show children what it is like to grow up with family members who are Holocaust survivors. My grandmother received a tattoo on her arm as soon as she arrived in Auschwitz. To relate this horror in a less painful way to children, my book depicts a memoir like account of me speaking with my grandmother as a young girl, wondering what that strange tattooed number represents. Through that wonder, the grandmother begins to tell the young girl about being a Holocaust survivor because she feels it is crucial for her granddaughter to understand the truth about her history. 

After I got my Masters I did not end up doing anything with the book. I was in such a rush to get a teaching job after graduation  that the book sort of fell by the wayside. However, this past January my grandmother unfortunately passed away (my grandfather had died several years before). At the time of her passing, I began to realize that it was imperative that I preserve the memory, love, and incredible history of my grandparents seeing as the world had just lost two more Holocaust survivors. I could not let their legacies fade away even though they were no longer around. More importantly, I felt that I needed to use their stories to reach out to as many young people as possible to introduce and teach them about the Holocaust in a delicate manner. I believe that The Number on Her Arm can serve as as that gentle introduction. Thus, after my grandmother's funeral, I dusted off my manuscript and have been working non-stop to get this book formatted and published so the real work can soon begin. Thank you for joining me on this exciting journey to honor my grandparents...more to come soon!