I don’t believe that I’m an evil person. I was eighteen years old, confused and terrified and alone. I was hurting in ways that I’ve never found words for. But for all this, I was still a human being and a Jew, responsible for the work that my hands did. I have been used against the memory of my people. If we hold the Germans responsible for their actions, should I not also be held responsible for failing to take my life before helping them in this way?
Selected for work in the Birkenau Sonderkommando at age 17, Alex outlived his family, his childhood, and his faith. His memory was 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.
Now, more than sixty years later, Alex is ready to face his 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.
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.
What people are saying about A Damaged Mirror
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 and The Hidden of Things: Twelve Stories of Love & Longing
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
About the Authors
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.
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.
By Ovadya ben Malka & Yael Shahar
Kasva Press • $16.95