EAST BRUNSWICK – A Middlesex County College professor is continuing to tell her mother’s stories from her first release “The Story of Blima: A Holocaust Survivor” with her memoir, “My Mother’s Shoes.” Writing for a general audience with an interest in immigrants in mid-20th century America, Shirley Russak Wachtel offers a powerful story about the unbreakable bond between a mother and her daughter.
Wachtel shares the stories of her mother, Blima, and her early life in Poland before World War II devastated the entire globe. She describes how she was torn away from her home and forced into a labor camp. After surviving the Holocaust, Blima finds freedom in a new citizenship in a land that she describes as having streets of gold.
Blima becomes Betty in the streets of Brooklyn, and Wachtel shares her mother’s points of view as well as her own accounts of life. The author describes how she became both her mother’s shadow and strength throughout the course of her life. As Wachtel grows into an adult and Blima grows older, life experiences and challenges strengthen their bond even more.
“Ultimately, I want my work to be a testament to the triumph of the human spirit,” Wachtel says. “My mother endured hardship and loss during the Holocaust and it carried over for many years. Even though I was born and grew up in America, I had to learn strength by walking in her shoes.”
Wachtel believes her mother’s courageous story and her unbelievable strength will stay with the reader long after the last page of her memoir is read. She hopes that readers realize the life struggles we all face are sources of strength that teach us how to persevere and enable us to confront new challenges.
“My Mother’s Shoes” is available for sale online at Amazon.com and other channels.
Wachtel earned her Doctor of Letters degree from Drew University and her master’s in English literature from Long Island University. She has been published in the New Jersey Section of The New York Times and was a feature writer for the Staten Island Advance. She has spent the past 20 years as an English professor at Middlesex County College in Edison, where she teaches English composition, creative writing and a special topics course called Writing About Survival. She won The Innovative Teaching Award from The League for Innovation in Community College in conjunction with The New York Times in 2006 for her work with the special topics class.
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