Where does grief go when there are no more tears?
Where does memory go when there’s no one left to tell?
Ovadya was seventeen years old when he was deported to Birkenau from his home in Salonika, Greece. Selected for work in the Birkenau Sonderkommando, he outlived his family, his childhood, and his faith. His memory filled with the death of a people, unable to speak of what he had done to survive, he was locked in the silent prison of his guilt.
“We know now where grief untold goes: it goes on to haunt future generations. It gets left behind on the grating; it passes unscathed through temperatures that can melt iron and reduce human bone to ash. And somewhere far removed in space and decades into the future, a stranger wakes out of a sound sleep with an inexplicable nightmare and a despair so deep as to negate life itself.”
— A Damaged Mirror: A Story of memory and redemption
Now, more than sixty years later, Ovadya is ready to face the memories in search of atonement. His spiritual struggle will lead him back into his past, and into the long and storied history of his people in search of an answer to the silence of God. But his destiny is bound up with that of a woman born in a different time and place—a woman who is the key to helping Ovadya find the strength to face the dead.
A Damaged Mirror describes a spiritual journey. But what makes this journey significant is not its particulars—the memory of this or that incident, traumatic and world-shattering as it was. No, what makes this journey significant is that it is our journey, as a nation.”
— From the Foreword by Rabbi Dr. Nathan Lopes Cardozo
A Damaged Mirror is an exploration of the boundaries between right and wrong, choice and choicelessness–and what happens when we cross those boundaries. It challenges notions of black and white, and calls into question the sovereignty of death itself.
Praise for A Damaged Mirror: A story of memory & redemption
From the horrors of the Birkenau crematoria and the dilemmas of survival that are forever etched in our hearts, to the profound dialogues of Talmudic debate, the authors reach from the past to the present—challenging us to examine ourselves as Jews, and our relation to G-d in a world gone mad.
–Chaya Rosen, Of the Book, the Jewish Press Book Supplement
A Damaged Mirror is a must-read for those wishing to embark on a profound, painful, but ultimately hopeful journey into the human soul.
– Yael Unterman, author of Nehama Leibowitz, Teacher and Bible Scholar
About the Authors
Yael Shahar was born in the United States and moved to Israel when she was 18. After an adventurous and unattributable career in security and intelligence, Yael divides her time between researching trends in terrorism and learning Talmud, often with the dubious assistance of her one-eyed cat. She is an entertaining and sought-after public speaker, and lectures both in Israel and abroad.
Ovadya ben Malka was born in 1926 in Saloniki, Greece. At the age of seventeen he was deported, together with his mother and younger sister, to Auschwitz-Birkenau. His family was killed on arrival. He survived nearly two months in the Quarantine camp, outlasting most of those who arrived with him, but his survival was to cost him dearly. The rest of his story is told in A Damaged Mirror.
By Yael Shahar& Ovadya ben Malka
Kasva Press • $16.95