Monday, March 20, 2017

"Life in a Jar"

My sister, Sharon, bought me the book Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project by Jack Meyer this past Christmas, and my mom and I read it together. We finished it a couple days ago, and it was a great book! Here is a synopsis:

During World War II, Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker, organized a rescue network of fellow social workers to save 2,500 Jewish children from certain death in the Warsaw ghetto. Incredibly, after the war her heroism, like that of many others, was suppressed by communist Poland and remained virtually unknown for 60 years. Unknown, that is, until three high school girls from an economically depressed, rural school district in southeast Kansas stumbled upon a tantalizing reference to Sendler's rescues, which they fashioned into a history project, a play they called Life in a Jar. Their innocent drama was first seen in Kansas, then the Midwest, then New York, Los Angeles, Montreal, and finally Poland, where they elevated Irena Sendler to a national hero, championing her legacy of tolerance and respect for all people. Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project is a Holocaust history and more. It is the inspirational story of Protestant students from Kansas, each carrying her own painful burden, each called in her own complex way to the history of a Catholic woman who knocked on Jewish doors in the Warsaw ghetto and, in Sendler's own words, "tried to talk the mothers out of their children." Inspired by Irena Sendler, they are living examples of the power of one person to change the world and models for young people everywhere.

I really liked this book, especially how it told Irena's story, as well as the story of the three Kansas students who uncovered Irena's heroic past. Irena convinced Jewish parents to give their children to her, and she smuggled approximately 2500 children out of the Warsaw ghetto in Poland. This was very dangerous work, of course, and Irena and the other members of Zegota (the codename of the secret organization that fought back against the Nazis) risked so much in order to help rescue others. As I read the book, I kept asking myself, "Would I have the courage to fight injustice and risk my life in order to help others?" I'd like to think I would, but I worry I would be too timid and scared.

This was a great book, and it definitely gets my recommendation!
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