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Editorial: Reading Lets Us Live Other People’s Lives

Last week we attended a Kristallnacht service at the Oyster Bay Jewish Center. It commemorates that night when Nazi Germany authorized a night of criminal mischief against their Jewish population. Non-Jewish neighbors were encouraged to break the windows of their Jewish neighbors homes and businesses. It is a terrible event when you think of what that would mean if it were you and your own neighbors.

Somehow it is a lesson we have to keep learning considering the violence that happened last week in Brooklyn where swastikas were written on cars and benches and automobiles were burned. It appears the world has to be reminded of what happens when a country authorizes hatred against others.

What should be mentioned is that a Kristallnacht service is a statement against racial and religious hatred and it reinforces the belief that people can make a difference in other’s lives as it tells stories of survivors.

On Friday, we received an announcement that Long Island Reads has chosen a book based on a Holocaust story.

The Long Island Reads Committee has selected The Lost Wife by Long Island author Alyson Richman as the book that Long Islanders will read: One Book-One Island. LI Reads picks books written by Long Island authors.

Their press notice said, “Released on September 6, 2011, and already in a second printing, this book begins with the reunion of a couple who, each thinking the other had died in the Holocaust, have not seen each other for 60 years. Ms. Richman imagines the 60 years of separation between these two, creating an epic love story that begins in glamorous pre-war Prague, but takes a tragic turn as Czechoslovakia is swept under the folds of the Nazi Occupation.

The Lost Wife is both an unforgettable love story and a novel that reveals the true story of the secret resistance of a small group of artists during World War II. It is a story that explores the resilience of the human spirit, the power of memory, and the unbreakable desire for an artist to create.”

Here on the north shore, our local libraries participate in Long Island Reads in a joint effort. Oyster Bay-East Norwich Public Library Director Suzanne Koch said on Monday, Nov. 14 that she met with the other libraries that form North Shore Reads and they will continue to participate in the program.

She said, “Seven libraries will again get together and share expenses and are having an event based on the book, at The Metropolitan in Glen Cove, as we did last year but we have to decide on a date.”

They are looking to set that date. She said, National Library Week (April 8-14, 2012) this year comes when school is out and it will be in the middle of the school holidays, but there is plenty of time to decide.

The book is already available in paperback at the OB-EN library. It is not yet available in audio or on the libraries Internet loan service, but both are expected.

FYI: The author will speak at a Long Island Reads author event on April 22, at Plainview-Old Bethpage Library. The Lost Wife will be available in trade paperback, audio CD, e-book, and large type.

Long Island Reads takes place annually throughout the month of April. Many Nassau County and Suffolk County libraries feature Long Island Reads programs during National Library Week (April 8-14, 2012). It is organized by Nassau co-chairs Janet Schneider and Lee Fertitta; and Suffolk co-chair, Deborah Clark Cunningham.

While the topic of the Holocaust is dark, it appears that it is necessary that we try our best to teach it to each generation to prevent them from participating in actions that are unacceptable. We are looking forward to reading The Lost Wife. Art itself is wonderful but when it is meaningful it enriches out hearts and souls.