Monday, September 28, 2009

"The Invisible Wall" a memoir written by Harry Bernstein

I can't wait to share this book with you! I want to tell you about the author because if I had read the Afterword first, I would have enjoyed the book even more. At the age of 96 following the death of his wife Ruby, Harry decided it was time to write his first book. Did you catch that? 96 and embarking on a new frontier! I love that! What an inspiration he is when so many other people give up on life far too early.

Harry Bernstein

This story is about his childhood during World War II, set in England. The street he lives on hosts a colorful array of characters that Harry vividly brings to life. On one side of the street live the Christian families, and on the other side live the Jewish families. They rarely if ever mix, and hence the term "Invisible Wall" is coined. The intensity with which both sides live life according to their religion, completely isolates them to their own kind. They don't enter each others homes, the children are discouraged from playing together, and only in times of great desperation do they lend a hand or offer solace.

In our generation where the world to me sometimes seems so gray, there was something a little bit wonderful in the tradition each side clung so tightly to that lead them unfortunately to such disastrous results. Both sides had such pride in who they were and what they believed. Their faith defined them in ways that made them a part of a heritage that was bigg
er than just the four walls and circumstances they were forced to live in.

I like thinking about that. What it means. Isn't that kind of belonging something every human being longs for? This book made me ponder what invisible walls I might have. Walls inside that keep me from fully experiencing life. Barriers I've wrongfully built to stay safe or keep my family safe. Ways I've judged other people and missed out on the amazing impact they could have had in my life. I keep the term "Invisible Wall" filed in my mind as I walk through life now, looking for where this impacts my thoughts, judgments, decisions.

Fear was a driving force for the people on this street. Fear of how they would be taunted, physically abused, that their children might fall in love with the wrong side. Fear that loving or giving to people that are different than themselves might cause them to have to abandon what they believe. That perhaps was the greatest lie!

The Invisible Wall

Don't you think it's true that when our beliefs are challenged that we come out on the other side so much stronger? I would hope that would cause us to leave behind a life of gray, where we never speak the truths we feel for fear of stepping on someone else. That we could just learn to speak what we believe in love, that others could honor those beliefs, share how they stand in a different reality, and together we could exist not silenced but helping each other navigate this complicated path we all have to walk. I guess when a book causes you to evaluate who you are and how you participate in this've stumbled on to something really special. Thanks Harry! **** Review by Holly

If this triggers a response in you either positive or negative we'd love to read your comment! Thanks so much for stopping by.

To make your life easier there is a link in the right column of our blog where you can choose this book and buy it on Amazon.


Lee the Hot Flash Queen said...

I totally believe that. Being Jewish, these types of stories touch me, and I am going to have to go out and get it and read it! I love the recommendations so far!!

Daffy said...

Thank you for blogging about this book. I will definitely add it to my read list. A book that allows for introspection and growth along with education is worth the time to read it. I'll let you know when I've finished it. Thanks again!

Liz in Virginia said...

My book group (a motley crew made up of women who are mostly secular in spirit) read this book. At the time, my responses were:

1) In a group of people who don't describe themselves as religious, I felt the need to defend the idea of belief itself.

2) I thought about the common response of many religous families (Christians, Jews, Muslims) which is to protect our children from people who don't believe the way we do (for example, our homeschooling friends, families who commit to Catholic schools, Hebrew schools, Madrassas, etc.). Is this healthy for our children? Is it healthy for the world? (if we are truly to be "a light unto the nations," is there a minimum age for this?)

And how do we and our children learn about the world and our brothers and sisters if we turn away from them?

Hard questions, without easy answers.

Gretchen said...

Wow! That is SO inspiring! Both the actual story and the fact that he wrote it at 96 years old! It is now a "must read" for me! Thank you for sharing!

Hillbilly Duhn said...

First, thank you for following my blog. I have another one I just started up, I think you might enjoy - Hillbilly Duhn's Book Reviews

Wow. That is inspiring, could you imagine, at 96 starting on such an adventure. My hubs will probably complain, but I'm pretty sure, this is another one that's gonna go in the must have's!!