A Candle in the Heart is the true moving story of an orphaned little girl caught in the dangerous whirlwinds of World War II. She and her remaining siblings rely on the kindness of strangers to protect them from those who would murder them without compunction. Because of these “strangers,” Jews who rescued Jews (including Rabbi MB Wiessmandl and Rabbi Solomon Schonfeld in London) the little girl is able to go on to live a full productive life, as she moves through the post-war period and finally arrives in America to realize her version of the American dream.
For more than ten years, Judith Alter Kallman gestated and carried her book in her heart and head, and is pleased to announce the publication of A Candle in the Heart, the story of a child’s life experiences. It’s a book written to inspire faith and courage in young and old.
Judith Alter Kallman
Scheduled Speaking Engagements
Brandeis University Women Luncheon and Book Signing
Thursday, Nov. 1, 2012
Sunningdale Country Club
300 Underhill Road
Scarsdale, New York
from 11 A.M. to 3 P.M.
Book Sale & Signing 11 A.M. to Noon.
Luncheon Noon to 1 P.M.
Guest speakers from 1. P.M. to 3 P.M.
UNITED STATES HOLOCAUST MEMORIAL MUSEUM
SUNDAY AND MONDAY JULY 15-16, 2012
AT THE BOOKSTORE FROM NOON – 4 P.M.
Ahavath Torah, Englewood, NJ
Thursday, May 17, 2012
RESCUE AS RESISTANCE
Holocaust Teachers’ Training Workshop
Co-sponsoring groups (in formation):
Child Development Research, New Jersey State Commission on Holocaust Education, Council of Holocaust Educators, New Jersey, Ahavath Torah, The Brenn Institute, Northern New Jersey Federation/UJA.
Program: Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, Dr. Paul Winkler, Dr. Eva Fogelman, Dr. Mordechai Paldiel, Dr. Karen Shawn, Yeshiva University, CHE president, Colleen Tambuscio, Judith Kallman, child survivor, Jeanette Friedman, chairman of The Brenn Institute
The Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center
& Justice Brandeis Law Society
Yom HaShoah Commemoration
Thursday, April 19, 2012
6 pm – 8:30 pm
Westchester Medical Center
100 Woods Road,
Dessert reception will follow
Limited Seating – RSVP
Thursday, April 19, 2012
Thursday afternoon at 2 pm
featured speaker Judith Kallman
with moderator Ari Goldman
The Upper School of Ramaz for the high school students
60 East 78th Street
(between Park and Madison Avenues)
New York, NY
Cong Kehillath Jeshurun in New York City
with a panel moderated by Ari Goldman of Columbia University
Wednesday evening, April 18 at 7 pm
The Upper School of Ramaz
60 East 78th Street
(between Park and Madison Avenues)
New York, NY
Temple Shalom, Greenwich, CT
Tuesday, April 17, 2012
Arizona Speaking Engagements
Fairmont Princess Hotel Scottsdale, AZ
Passover, April 7, 2012
Simon Wiesenthal Center, Los Angeles, CA
Teleconfrence with four schools
March 13-14, 2012
A Note from Judith Alter Kallman
I began writing A Candle in the Heart quite a few years ago when my daughter had to do a thesis for her English professor on children of war. Debbie wondered how she could complete this assignment, when she realized that I had told her war stories as she was growing up, and I was her perfect subject.
When her professor returned her paper, with an A- grade, his comment on the bottom of the paper was that he could not believe that human beings could behave so inhumanely. (He apologized for giving her an A- because he felt the story was interrupted by too many explanations.) His comments showed me that many people had no idea what had happened during World War II to the Jews, and I realized I could no longer remain silent. My story needed to be told so that people would learn about the Holocaust.
I was sidetracked for a few years, and kept notes in my head. Then one day, my daughter decided to take her older children to Eastern Europe to visit the camps and left her five year old with me. Alyson was upset and miserable because her parents left her behind, and I had a hard time connecting to her. I could not understand her sadness until her Mom called from Poland to let me know they had been to Auschwitz that day. Auschwitz was where my parents and siblings were murdered. Suddenly I understood why Alyson was so unhappy. During that phone call, my pain at being abandoned as a child came rushing back and I could finally see why Alyson was so miserable. She felt abandoned, too. My family was never able to come back to me, but my daughter and her family would soon be reunited with Alyson.
After my children’s trip, I knew I had to write everything down, to tell my story in the first person, beginning at the beginning to describe my childhood and my life.
In 1942, I was a little girl in a small spa town in Slovakia, I was the youngest in my family and much loved. We had everything we wanted, and my parents and grandparents were successful business people who owned a general store that served the local people and tourists who came from all over the world to enjoy the hot springs. The name of the town is Piestany, and it is still there.
When World War II came to my town, everything that was wonderful and happy turned to horror and sadness. After the Slovakian fascists took away my father’s business and chased us out of our home, we tried to stay one step ahead of our enemies by hiding in different places and using false papers. Then one day, my father was betrayed and arrested, along with my mother and two of my six siblings. They were first taken to a holding camp and on the day they were deported to Auschwitz, one of my brothers and I went to the train station to see what was happening. I was just five years old. My brother who was 11 at the time, stayed with me almost the entire time. I was hysterical and wanted to join my parents, but my father, as he climbed the ramp into the railroad car, he signaled us to keep away because he wanted us to survive. When I continued to scream, a Hlinka guardsman threatened to shoot me in the head, so I became quiet.
My father’s sister owned a major estate near the city of Nitra and was very influential and arranged to have my brother and me smuggled into Budapest, Hungary by a peasant woman, who took us through snowy fields in the middle of the night to the train. When we got to Budapest, she tried to deliver us to my mother’s sister, who was too terrified to take us in because the Germans threatened to kill entire families if they protected refugees. The peasant woman abandoned us on a park bench in the middle of the city, and soon the police came and put the two of us in the notorious Conti Street Prison, the same prison where the Israeli paratrooper, Chana Senesh, was tortured and killed.
We were taken out on the last night of Chanukah by a watchmaker, who told us all would be well, and a few days later, we were released in the custody of a world famous kosher restaurant owner. He and his wife reunited us with our siblings and took care of us even after the Germans took over Hungary in March 1944.
We hid in the famous Glass House, a factory protected by the Swiss consul, Carl Lutz, and when the war was over, everything changed again. My step-mother died and my stepfather’s new wife didn’t want strange children around. My three siblings were sent to Palestine and because I developed a lung disease, I was sent to a children’s home high in the Tatra Mountains and began my own journey.
I was sent to a Catholic school, and then my aunt arranged to have me taken on the very last Kindertransport to England. It was organized by Rabbi Solomon Schonfeld, an unsung hero of the Holocaust. He saved thousands of Jewish children before, during and after the war by arranging to bring them to England. I gained an excellent education and command of the English language in London.
Finally, the time came for me to be reunited with my siblings in Israel. I was sent to a lovely children’s home and farm called Kfar Batya, which was a project founded by an American woman, Bessie Gotsfeld, for AMIT, a Jewish organization. It was a wonderful learning experience for me, and I met many Americans, since it became my job to show them around the school and talk to them about its important mission. It was on one such tour that I met my first husband, Howard Alter, and we were married in Kfar Batya.
I am glad my book has finally been published. It is a memorial to my family and to those who died. The book brings me closure, and allows me to give over the legacy of my family and my people’s past. It also has an important message. In a world where antisemtism is once again coming to the surface, where people deny the Holocaust, I want people to know that the story I am telling is true, that I was a witness to what hate can do to people, and that if you stand up and speak out against hatred, you can save lives. Please promise me that each one of you will stand up for what you believe in and will not stay silent.
Praise for A Candle in the Heart
FROM THE SAN DIEGO JEWISH WORLD
By Donald H. Harrison
SAN DIEGO–This is an unusual Holocaust memoir because it moves from a child’s terror to her comfort, back to terror and then to reassurance, in a journey that takes readers from Czechoslovakia to Hungary to Great Britain to Israel and finally to the United States.
Judith Mannheimer’s childhood memories include the peace and tranquility of Shabbat in her home in Piestany, Czechoslovakia, where she was born in 1937. They also include living on the run after the pro-Nazi Hlinka took over the country. In 1941, the child Judith had to use an outhouse situated over a stream and fell through the seat into the mucky waters below. Somehow she was able to climb back up to safety, but the terrifying experience made her wary of using strange toilets. In 1942, she was at nursery school when her parents and other family members were arrested at their home. Separated from their parents, Judith and three remaining siblings were farmed out to relatives. Nevertheless, they were watched in horror as their parents were loaded on the trains, never to return.
From then on an orphan, five-year-old Judith, two older brothers and a sister were smuggled to Budapest, Hungary, where they divided into pairs. Judith and her brother Bubi were captured and put into the Conti Street prison. Word of the little girl in prison spread through Budapest’s Jewish community and Maurice and Ilonka Stern, owners of the well-known Sterns’ restaurant in the Jewish quarter, took the little girl in, showering her with affection, and giving her a home in which to recover.
Only it couldn’t last, the Nazis overthrew the Hungarian government in 1944, and Judith, now 7, was forced with her brothers and sister to wear a yellow star and to live in the ghetto that was built in the vicinity of the Sterns’ home. Eventually, the Sterns moved with Judith into hidden quarters in the ‘Glass House,’ a former glass factory that Switzerland’s representative Carl Lutz set up as a sanctuary north of the Jewish quarter. The Sterns took over responsibility for cooking for 3,000 Jews who were hiding in tunnels and byways the Glass House, as well as for another 12,000 Jews in other safe houses established by the Swiss.
On December 31, 1944, members of the Arrow Cross began pulling people out of Glass House hiding places, lining them up and shooting them one at a time. Stern and Judith were forced into that line, but before the executioners could reach them, a convoy of the Swiss Red Cross and the Swiss diplomatic corps pulled up, forcing the Arrow Cross to hastily depart.
On January 18, 1945, Russian troops liberated Pest, and a month later the Soviets captured Buda, across the Danube River. Judith’s former life with the Sterns resumed all too briefly; Ilonka Stern fell ill. When she died, the bereft Maurice sent Judith to a children’s camp in Hungary, from which she ran away. When she reached Budapest, she collapsed physically, requiring many weeks of rehabilitation. Maurice subsequently married a beautiful woman, who wanted no part of someone else’s child. So Maurice sent Judith to a mountain camp in Czechoslovakia. With her contact with the Sterns severed, Judith was gathered up by Rabbi Solomon Schonfeld and placed in a post-war Kindertransport to England. She stayed with a reserved, Orthodox foster family while attending a school run by Schonfeld. Their lack of warmth persuaded her, at age 13, to migrate to Israel, where she lived at the Kfar Baya youth village in Ra’anana.
The English that she had learned served her well in Israel because she was able to serve as a tour guide for many English-speaking visitors, including a young man who would become her first husband, Howard Alter, to whom she was wed at age 18 on December 28, 1955. Alter brought her to New York.
They owned a business called Howard Notions and Trimming Company, and eventually had three children. Learning American ways, and avoiding anything that would remind her of her childhood in Europe, Judith was happy being a suburban housewife. But in 1972, her husband’s life was claimed by cancer.
Now on her own again, Judith took care of her children rather than being the recipient of care. This enabled her to grow psychologically into a more independent person. Instead of rushing into the security of another marriage, she waited until June 3, 1981 to marry attorney Irwin Kallman, the second marriage for each . By 1983 she was a grandmother, and today she is a great-grandmother.
Such is the outline of an unusual life. Beyond these bare facts, however, this book is worth reading because it provides insight into the human spirit, and how even the youngest and most fragile among us can survive incredible trauma.
Harrison is editor of San Diego Jewish World. He may be contacted at [email protected]
National Jewish Book Council
Review by Marcia Weiss Posner
Where is that little mite who stole my heart while I read this book: the child I wanted to take in my arms and protect, the innocent tyke who survived so much and became strengthened by it? Would I recognize her now — a substantial person who can still enjoy life, who could emerge from each trauma as an intact person? As her daughter, Deborah Alter Goldenberg, writes in the foreword: “When so few children survived the Holocaust, Mom survived and built on each of her experiences to strengthen her resolve to go forward.” Today, she is a gift to her immediate family, her friends, and the institutions she works to strengthen. But, I have started at the ending. Join me as I limn part of her remarkable journey.
Picture the Mannheimers, a comfortable Jewish family in Czechoslovakia, not wealthy, but comfortable; their mother, Dora, was the ultimate cook, housewife, and mother who also found the time to design matching outfits for her six children, three girls and three boys. Since Judith, an uncommonly beautiful child, was the youngest and I suppose a surprise to her parents, she was treated as a pet, especially by her adoring father. The family lived a modern life, refined and steeped in Jewish practices; chief among them was the appreciation of the Sabbath and the S’hma, a prayer that strengthened and preserved little Judith throughout her ordeals.
All the children were attractive and personable people, and the family had good relations with both Jews and gentiles, although the latter were quick to disown them once the Nazis invaded the Sudetenland and Czechoslovakia separated into two countries. Unfortunately, the Mannheimer family lived in Slovakia, the half that harbored the radical Nazi Hlinka Guard. Despite going into hiding in the home of peasants, her parents and two eldest siblings were seized by the guards and deported. It was the last time their younger children saw them. A peasant woman was paid to take Judith and her oldest brother to their maternal aunt, who turned them away at her doorstep, fearing for her own children’s safety. Abandoned and jailed, the children embarked on what would become a series of crises, rescues, and remarkable recoveries. Of some, they were the recipients, but of others, they had to initiate the actions that would further their progress. I do not know how the author retained an intact psyche. Not wanting to give away any more of this well-written and remarkable true adventure, different from all the other survivor stories I have reviewed for JBW, I say: buy it, read it, and give it to every bat mitzvah girl you know.
It was once fittingly said of Eleanor Roosevelt that she ‘would rather light a candle than curse the darkness.’ The same could be said of Judith Kallman. In her deeply moving and profoundly courageous memoir, A Candle in the Heart, she illuminates the goodness of the human spirit amidst the darkness of the Holocaust. She illustrates in haunting detail the human capacity for unspeakable cruelty and evil, but more importantly, she reminds us that light—which is seen through her love for family and friends, the selfless sacrifice of strangers, and the sustaining power of faith—can endure and prevail even in the darkest moments of human history. A Candle in the Heart reminds us all that hope is eternal.
—Senator Joseph Lieberman (I-CT)
Kallman’s story as a child survivor of the Holocaust is heart wrenching and inspirational…a poignant memoir of the triumph of the human spirit, renewal, and faith. This book is for all who believe in the power of family, the importance of inspiring future generations to keep the light of Judaism bright, and to cherish the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust.
—Jacob Dayan, Consul General of Israel
A great read..A daughter’s thoughtful, poignant, and beautifully written memoir about what it meant to be all by herself after seeing her parents and two siblings deported to the death camps. While every Holocaust survivor’s story is important, A Candle in the Heart is special for it tells us not only what was lost, but also of what must be reclaimed.
—Rabbi Marvin Hier, Founder and Dean, The Simon Wiesenthal Center
Judith’s story, is well worth telling and is told so well.
–Michael Berenbaum, Ph.D., Director of the Sigi Ziering Center for the Study of the Holocaust and Ethics
This is an emotionally powerful and riveting story of an awesome display of heroism in the face of some of the most egregious and cruel acts against humanity.
—Peter Tesei, First Selectman (R-Greenwich, CT)
It was impossible to put this book down. I thought I was reading fiction as the drama was riveting, inspirational and very moving—A TRIUMPH, A MUST READ.
—Leon H. Charney, The Charney Report
- A Candle in the Heart: Memoir of a Child Survivor by Judith Alter Kallman; Deborah Alter Goldenberg, fwd. · Jewish Book World Magazine · 6/15/12
- The Holocaust And Human Rights Center Newsletter · 4/25/12
- Teacher Training Conference in Englewood, NJ · The New Jersey Jewish Standard · 5/25/12
- Grandmother’s Good Food
- Holocaust orphan’s memoir now available from Amazon.com · Greenwich Time · 12/13/11
- Cindy Adams Column · NY Post · 8/9/11
- Holocaust orphan keeps family’s memory aflame in new memoir · The Stamford Advocate · 8/6/11