When Susan Kushner Resnick wrote "You Saved Me, Too: What a Holocaust Survivor Taught Me about Living, Dying, Fighting, Loving, and Swearing in Yiddish", she was a suburban mom recovering from postpartum depression, who eventually stuck up a friendship with Aron Lieb, a defiant, cheerful Holocaust survivor. Their friendship would change the course of their lives forever.
Resnick will be a guest speaker at Temple Sinai in Sharon on Sunday, Oct. 28, at 10 a.m. For more information, call 781-784-6081 or visit Kushner-Resnick's website.
Sharon Patch recently sat down with the local author to talk about her experience.
Sharon Patch: Much of the story you tell in this book takes place in Sharon. Can you talk more about that?
Kushner-Resnick: Aron and I met in the lobby of the former Striar JCC in Stoughton, but we both lived in Sharon at the time. He'd lived all over the Greater Boston area, most notably near Blue Hill Avenue in Dorchester. Or is that Mattapan? He'd correct me on that if he were here. Anyway, he was a deli counterman at the G & G, which was a famous Boston spot, but after he retired from cutting corned beef, he moved to the southern suburbs. He stayed in Sharon until he was in danger of dying alone in his apartment and needed to go to a nursing home.
Sharon Patch: Why do you emphasize that this isn't a strictly religious book?
Kushner-Resnick: Because though it's about the unusual bond between a Jewish man and woman, the fact is that one of the things we had in common was our questioning of Judaism. What the book is really about - and I hope this will resonate with people of degrees of faithfulness - is befriending a stranger and doing the right thing even when it's uncomfortable.
Sharon Patch: What do you hope people come away with after hearing you speak or reading the book?
Kushner-Resnick: Besides realizing that they shouldn't be afraid to talk to strangers? I hope they'll realize that everyone is important, whether bureaucrats think so or not, and that individuals can save lives even if institutions aren't willing too.
Sharon Patch: Part of the book covers the significance of Aron's tattoo. Can you talk more about that?
Kushner-Resnick: The book is written as a conversation I started having in my head with Aron as he was dying. While I held his hand and looked at his the tattoo he got at Auschwitz, I realized that once people like him are all gone, those tattoos, which help keep the memory of the Holocaust alive, will be gone, too. I wanted to preserve that number somehow. I had it engraved on a tiny bracelet that I wear every day.
Sharon Patch: What is your connection to Temple Sinai and why is it particularly meaningful?
Kushner-Resnick: Before Aron could get the end-of-life care he needed, I had to raise a certain amount of money that Medicaid wouldn't cover. I had expected the Jewish nursing home he eventually attended to help, but they were unable to, so as he withered away, I put out a call for help. Many individuals from Temple Sinai in particular, but also from all over Sharon, started sending me checks to pay for his care. Most of them didn't know him or me, but they reached out to help because it was the right thing to do. I will be forever grateful.