Author Gives Talk On Harrowing Family History
Several dozen people at Congregation Adath Israel on Sunday, April 28, listened intently as author Deborah Vadas Levison discussed details from her book The Crate: A Story of War, a Murder and Justice.
Ms Levison, who is an award-winning journalist, author, and the daughter of Holocaust survivors, discussed sections of her book and fielded questions from audience members.
The book focuses on her Hungarian parents and their World War II survival amid the horrors of ghettos, death marches, and concentration camps. Ms Levison’s talk was accompanied by a slide show, which illustrated the incredibly grim existence that people as prisoners experienced at the hands of the Nazis.
The author’s parents emigrated to Canada in 1956, where they lived peacefully, until many years later, when a corpse was found hidden in a crate beneath their lakeside vacation home north of Toronto. The discovery of a woman’s remains in the crate triggered a police investigation, which was intense and unsettling for the family, Ms Levison explained.
“It is my debut book. It’s not the happiest of stories, I must admit,” she said.
Ms Levison said she has given many talks on her book, which explores the themes of violence and hatred.
“Unfortunately, these themes remain timely,” she said.
Newtown is well aware of the chilling effects of violence in view of the events of December 14, 2012, at Sandy Hook School, she said.
The author recalled that in her youth, her parents seemed to be fragile people who did not fit in with Canadian society.
“My family seemed so different,” she said. Her mother only occasionally spoke cryptically of the past, she said.
The author spoke of her family’s love of Hungarian food, a cuisine in which all dishes were made from scratch. While she liked some of the Hungarian meals that she regularly ate, others were not so appealing, she said.
Ms Levison recalled her first encounter with McDonald’s fast food, an experience she vividly recounted as being something very different than eating normal Hungarian fare.
Ms Levison said she clearly remembers her parents stressing to her the value of schooling. “My parents’ mantra was ‘education, education, education,’” she said.
Although her father never spoke about the Holocaust, Ms Levison said she firmly believes that what occurred during that period of mass murder needs to be told publicly.
“I really believe we have to keep telling the stories [of the Holocaust] over and over,” she said.
Her talk at the synagogue touched on her family having found in 2010 a hidden crate beneath their lake house which held a murdered woman’s remains. The experience was traumatizing, Ms Levison said. The woman was a victim of domestic violence, a widespread problem, she added. The woman’s male murderer was convicted and remains in prison.
Her book is a treatise on violence, Ms Levison said. Through learning about violence, people can hopefully find ways to stop violence, she added.
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