Liz Pearl, ed. Living Legacies: A Collection of Writing by Contemporary Canadian Jewish Women. Vol. III. Toronto: PK Press, 2011. 218 pp. Foreword. Prologue. Introductions Volume I, II, and III. $22.00 sc.
Living Legacies is a collection of approximately 1000-word accounts by thirty-seven Canadian Jewish women of their life experiences. They are meant to serve as living legacies to and examples for future generations of Jewish women. As editor Liz Pearl notes, they "may include details reflecting relationships with significant others, philanthropic endeavours and community service" (xviii). While the women writers come from many walks of life and meet success in a wide range of vocations, all express the significance in their lives of their Judaism and of being Jewish. As such, the book will appeal primarily to young adult and adult members of the Jewish community.
Nine selections are by women who were born elsewhere and now live in Canada. In "The Importance of Remembering," Holocaust survivor and Hungarian-born Irene Guttman Romer implores us to remember the atrocities of World War II as a means of revenge for those "who were silenced forever" (160). In "Daddy, Why are you Crying?" Diana Mingail immerses readers in everyday life during World War II when the Japanese began bombing Calcutta. The story's title refers to two events in Mingail's life when she saw her father cry, each rime when he read news of "bad things happening to Jews" (116). The story is both personal and informative, explaining that, after the Japanese attack on Burma, Jewish families took refuge in Calcutta, raising the Jewish population suddenly from 1,500 to 5,000. Other accounts from this group address topics ranging from racism to the diasporas.
While some of the writers were born elsewhere and immigrated to Canada, the majority were born, raised, and live here. Over half of the writers are from Ontario and most of these, from Toronto. Four live in Montreal, one in Goose Bay, and the rest in western Canada. Notably absent is any representation from the Maritime provinces. Further, most of these writers appear to be in mid-life. One of the shortfalls of the book is the absence of birthdates which, if known, would place the writers in their historical context. However, those born and raised in Canada are less focused than those who immigrated to Canada on war, the Holocaust, or racism. …