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Jewish Journal

To tell the tale

by Danielle Berrin

October 18, 2007 | 5:11 pm

Everybody has a story.

True, some are more poignant than others, but the real value of any one story in particular is in the telling of it.

Since the end of WWII, we’ve heard many Holocaust survivor stories, and perhaps none acquired greater recognition or reception than Elie Wiesel’s Night. Yet the encompassing nature of his title immediately suggests: it was a ‘night’ shared by many; and indeed it was.

It was shared by Eva Brown, whose memory of living in 10 different concentration camps is as sharp and vivid at 80 as it was at 16. When she ran out of tears, her story became a place for her pain—and its deepest expression. When she sat at his Shabbat table, David Suissa realized hers was a story that needed to be told, and he wrote about Brown in this week’s Journal.

Eva Brown, more than anyone, knows the gravity of her tale. Together with Thomas Fields-Meyer, she limned her struggle to survive in a book, “If You Save One Life.” This Sunday she’ll share her story with anyone who will come and listen.

Brown’s journey is relayed through memory, through incalculable loss but with the hopeful vision of a woman who lives to tell the tale. No doubt we’ve all seen countless films and photographs of images from the camps—those nightmarish portraits, always black and white—but have we looked upon a face recounting them?  Have we seen the fleshy skin and penetrating eyes of those who bore gravest witness—who smelled the burning of bodies, and slept with the screams of their siblings?

It’s not our story to tell, it’s the story we must listen to. As it goes: if you save one life, it’s as if you save an entire world; and if you listen to one story, it’s as if you hear the echoes of six million.

Eva Brown will share her story this Sunday, October 21 and launch her book, “If You Save One Life,” co-authored by Thomas Fields-Meyer. 2 p.m. Free. Museum of Tolerance, 9786 W. Pico Blvd., Los Angeles. www.museumoftolerance.com

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