A path through history to love
These stories are for you if…
– You like inspiring, practical stories about love, survival, and creativity.
– You are ready to see rainbows and know they are for you.
– While you’re at it, you wouldn’t mind helping heal the world from historical violence.
Finding Zbaraż is a project I’ve been working on for a little over thirty years.
It started out with my grandmother telling me the story of surviving with my mother during World War II, passing as non-Jews in Eastern Poland, now the Ukraine. Sabti started the story when I was in high school, and told more when I was in college and she had cancer. I recorded it on a tape recorder in my dorm room. After she died, in 1988, I tried to put all the pieces together, and new bits kept on coming out, from archives, from letters and people I met. Every time I found a new piece, I found myself with more questions, but for now, I decided to make the parts I have today and the story of the search into this book, Finding Zbaraż.
In Finding Zbaraż, my grandmother tells her story in her own words. Then I tell about how I returned to Zbaraż, the city where she was from, and met the family who rescued her. I met Stasia, who was there with my mother during the war. And I learn that there is more than one side to every story.
I wrote Finding Zbaraż because I wanted to learn how the experiences of one generation get passed on to the next. I wanted to learn how to think about this story, and how it’s still with me today. Stories that I thought were closed in the past come alive and open for me in a new way.
Miryam Sas is a writer, scholar, and professor of Comparative Literature and Film & Media at the University of California, Berkeley.She earned her B.A. summa cum laude in literature from Harvard, her Ph.D. in Comparative literature and Japanese from Yale. The fields of memory studies and post-Holocaust representation within Jewish studies have long been among her comparative interests. Her dissertation project and first book, Fault Lines: Cultural Memory and Japanese Surrealism brought models of memory and trauma to intervene in the debates about cross-cultural relations and to overturn simplistic models of influence. Many of her courses over the past two decades have taken post-Holocaust representation and war representations as key subject matter, and have drawn on examples from Japanese and European (and Jewish) literature, film, and culture. Her second scholarly book, Experimental Arts in Postwar Japan, contained a chapter on theatrical representations of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and she once co-edited a catalogue of photographic representations of ground zero, Nagasaki Journey. Her next scholarly book includes examples from post-3.11 Japanese contemporary art.
Her memoirs and stories have been published in the literary journals Sanskrit, North Atlantic Review, Portland Review, Jewish Women’s Literary Annual, and in Japanese in Subaru magazine and in a monthly series in Asunaro journal. Other writings, interviews and literary translations have been featured in Cabinet, Mondo 2000, Covert Culture Sourcebook, Luciole, [Five] Factorial and Newsweek Japan.
Miryam served as core faculty of the Joint Doctoral Program in Jewish Studies at Berkeley for seven years, and serves currently as a faculty member in the doctoral program in Performance Studies and the designated emphasis in Women, Gender and Sexuality, among others.
When she took her orals in literature, her Professor Edward Kamens commented that he had never met someone less interested in “facts” than she was. In her old(er) age, she has come to find a passion for the historical archive, which means she has at last found a passion for “facts” as well as stories.