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November 14, 2014

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, NOVEMBER 14, 2014 PAGE 11A ByBatya Ungar-Sargon who might shed light on her the letters,"Wildman said, by fate. She combs the archives way of explanation, "and my NEWYORK (JTA)--As the forinformationandwalksthe grandmother wouldn't have last generation of Holocaust" streets ofVienna andBerlin in been too pleased." survivors ages and dies, ef- search of scraps of informa- Faced with the lack of sto- forts to capture their final, tion about Valy's life.ries "from the source" that untoldstorieshaveabounded. Bur"Paper Love" branches her daughters' generation But in her new book "Paper out at every turn--enfolding encounters, Wildmanchoseto Love: Searching for the Girl into its net more historical create something that could MyGrandfatherLeftBehind," details, more stories, more exist only in a world without Sarah Wildman has turned locations, more human lives Karl.It's thekindofart bound instead to the future, asking that vanished into World War to grow in the coming, post- what it means bear witness II, never to be heard of again survivor era--now thatWild- in a world without Holocaust until now. man is paving the way. survivors. The book weaves together Equal parts history, de- "Paper Love" chronicles the historical with the in- tective story, memoir and the author's long and laby- tensely personal', redefining romance, Wildman's book rinthine search for the fate what counts as appropriate providesanabsorbingaccount of the woman whose black- archival material and elevat- of'what it was like to live in and-white photos she finds ing intimate aspects from (and write from) Berlin as amid her late grandfather Valy'slife, andWildman'sown, the Nazi grip tightened and Karl's belongings. Wildman to new importance, conditions for Jews became knewonlythewoman'sname, In the six years it took increasingly worse--city by Valy, scrawled across the back to complete "Paper Love," city, day by day. of the photos, and that her Wildman, a journalist, gave Valy's letters smolder with grandmother bitterly called birth to two daughters. The desperation, both to see her the mysterious dark-haired transition into new mother- lover again and to survive woman "your grandfather's hood accompanied the one the horrors that have be- true love." from consumer of Holocaust fallen her city, country and It is only after her grand- history to producer of it. continent. Most of the letters mother dies that Wildman It's a transition that took are reproduced in the text, discovers a trove of letters place in the shadow of loss-- alongside which Wildman that her grandfather, a dash- specifically the death of her decodes the writer's attempts ingphysicianwhofledVienna grandparents, and also the to fool the censors who were in 1938 for the United States, gradual loss ofthe last genera- reading trans-Atlantic cor- kept hidden and mislabeled, tion of survivors, respondences. "Correspondence: Patients "It's been a very poignant But they are also magical, A-G" reads the carton con- thing for me that my kids magneticandplayful.Indeed, taining Valy's letters, written won't know them," Wildman Wildman saw something of in German from war-torn told JTA over the phone, her herself in the letter writer. Berlin, as well as angry cor- breast pump whirring in the "She'sobsessedwithherca- respondences from extended background."I amverymuch reer, she's not sosuper certain family members who would thinking of what comes next, about kids, she's incredibly never make it out of Hitler's in part because my children welleducated,'Wiidmansaid. Europe. won't have the opportunity "Shesoundslikesomeoneyou Wildman's hunt for Valy's of that visceral connection mightwanttobewithorhang story takes her to far-flung of listening to the story from out with. She doesn't sound cities, tiny villages and con- the source." likesomeonefaraway.Andshe centration camps throughout But "Paper Love" is revo- doesn't sound perfect either. I Europe, as well as to Ann lutionary precisely because think that's important, too." Arbor, Mich., searching for itcouldnothavebeenwritten Valy writes to Karl from people who may have known during the lifetime of Wild- Berlfn in April of 1940, "I lead Valy, for documents that man's grandfather, mylifethewayI'vebeendoing might refer to her, forexperts "He never told us aboutfor the past 2 years:in a spirit says no Anna Varsanyi Anna Varsanyi is considered Jewish by Israel's Chief Rab- binate but not by the country's Interior Ministry. By Ben Sales But the baby won't be Jew- ish, according to the State TEL AVIV (JTA)--In 2012, of Israel. AnnaVarsanyiwas married in Varsanyi, 30, is the victim anOrthodoxJewishceremony of an unusual bureaucratic conducted through Israel's mix-up. Chief Rabbinate. Israel abounds with im- Twoyearslater, the Hungar- migrants who are considered ian immigrant has made a Jewish by the state but not by life in Israel, settling with her the OrthodoxChiefRabbinate husband in the central city of under its stricter qualifica- Modiin and working a desk job tions. Varsanyi is the rare case inahospital. Sheisweeksaway in which the opposite is true. from having her first child. Born to a Jewish mother, Varsanyi meets the Chief Rabbinate's standards for who is a Jew. But Israel claims Varsanyi isn't Jewish because her mother converted to Christianity. Varsanyi says her mother is Jewish and it was her great-grandmother who con- verted--in 1930. "It's like they tell you, 'Come, make aliyah, you're Jewish, you're one of us,'" Varsanyi said, using the He- brew word for immigration to Israel. "But when you're already here, they say 'You're second-class, you're not one of us. So you might as well leave.'" Born under Hungary's Communist regime to a Jew- ish mother and a non-Jewish father, Varsanyi grew up barely aware of her Jewish heritage. But a growing in- terest in her Jewish roots led her to study Yiddish literature and culture at university and to register for a 10-day Birth- right Israel trip. Next came a year abroad at the University of Haifa, where she met her Israeli future husband. After a stint working for the Jewish Agency for Israel in Budapest, she immigrated in 2011. Varsanyi gained citizenship under the Law of Return, which requires only one Jewish? on page 15A Sarah Wildman, the author of"Paper Love." ofwaiting, without much joy discovers is how sanitized the of history, was there some or hope. But, my darling, don't story she had been told of her way that my grandfather had feel sad for me; I want you grandfather's miraculous thwarted that by saving these to know that I have people escape and instantaneous letters, and was there some around me--women,--you success in America. And"Pa- way I, with the privilege of know that only women are per Love" is also its author's having stumbled on them, left here?!, who still have attempttocometotermswith could give this woman back somethingto say, wholike me, her grandfather's actions and her voice?" who help me and who want to the guilt that she suspects Indeed, Valy comes to life make life pleasant for me. But plagued him for the rest of on the page, and her story will I do not succeed very often, his life. haunt those who read "Paper and they neverwill be able to And although her grand-Love" foralongtimeto come. replace you, my boy! You are father never spoke to his When asked what her and remain far, far away, out granddaughter about Valy, grandfather would make of of my reach, you exist only he unwittingly created an ar- herbook, Wildmananswered, in my memories, wonderful, chive for her to plunder, turn- "I think he would be pleased beautiful 'sunny past.'... You ing himself into a partner in to still be talked about... Of are no longer even a letter, the creation of"Paper Love." courseitexposesavulnerable such as tiny, modest piece of As Wildman asked herself, side of him that Idon't think the present. Why don't you "If the Nazi project was to he'd be thrilled with, but I do write?" erase these people, to render think ultimately he would be Why didn't he write? them unmemorable, to behappy to be thought of." AmongthethingsWildman wiped away from the rolls "My week is not ] ["I can't live] complete without it!"J [without it!"J // supposed These are some of the comments we receive from readers when they miss an issue of Heritage Florida Jewish News. What are you missing out on?... Subscribe today! m m m m l mmmmm m m m m m m m m i m m m m m m m m YES! I want to be informed. Start my subscription at once. Please: enter extend my subscription for: [21 1 year at $37.95 52 issues Q 2 years at $69.95 104 issues 1 year out-of-state at $46.95 or 2 years out-of-state at $87.95 MAIL SUBSCRIPTION TO: Naine mmm m m m m m m m m I Address I I City/State/Zip | Phone | expiration date I I I I I m Fill out coupon and mail, m with check or credit card information to: I HERITAGE Florida Jewish News I P.O. Box 300742 I Fern Park, FL 32730 m (407) 834-8787 ml m m i m m m i m m m m m If different from above, fill in your: Name Address City/State/Zip Phone llllllllllll m l m m m m mm~