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Harvey Brownstone Interviews Rena Lipiner Katz, Author, “A Life Inherited”

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Rena Katz: Exploring Intergenerational Trauma and the Holocaust | The Pulse #47

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Katz recounts her struggle as the child of Holocaust survivors and the fraught psychological inheritance that entailed.

The author was born in 1955 and largely raised in the Queens borough of New York City, but her emotional world was shaped by the ravages of World War II and the Holocaust, which her Jewish parents, Lusia and Edward, narrowly survived. Both were forced to escape their homes in Poland when the Nazis invaded in 1939; Edward lost worldly possessions but not loved ones and remained a relentlessly cheerful man later in life: "My father was like sunshine," Katz writes. Many members of Lusia's family, however, were murdered by the Nazis. Afterward, she was an anxious woman who was wary of others, taciturnly unwilling to discuss the trauma she experienced as a young girl. The author writes that she inherited this trauma, as well—she calls the Holocaust her "scorched birthright"—and she describes this bequest with melancholic, beautiful prose: "This was the string that pulled at me throughout my life. It coiled and knotted dread around my core, and fear was what I became most familiar with...and guilt lay just beneath the fear." The burden of her familial past exacted a steep emotional toll, as Katz found it difficult to make friends as a child, and she eventually married a mercurial man who beat her and once called her a "Dirty ***." In the aftermath of her divorce, she found herself locked in a bitter custody battle over their two sons—an experience that profoundly challenged her relationship with her children, she says, writing that her ex-husband used them as strategic pawns to hurt her.

Over the course of this memoir, Katz tells a familiar story, but it's one she tells with remarkable sensitivity and precise prose. At the age of 6, she already knew a lot about the Holocaust and possessed a shockingly clear comprehension of its terrible depths. With great subtlety, she anatomizes how one can suffer the ramifications of an event one never experienced so deeply it would come to dominate the remainder of one's life. The author's remembrance is not only a lament, though; in fact, the entire memoir is laced with a life-affirming sense of hopefulness. Katz repeatedly sought the assistance of therapists and, with time, came to reconcile herself with her unusual upbringing: "One of the first things I did in therapy was recognize that there was no need to give in to or heed the frightening thoughts; rather, I could view them as anomalies passing through my mind. Only my acceptance that what I feared most was possible could break the cycle." The author would eventually marry again, this time to a loving husband, and move to Israel, both of which, she says, satisfied a "yearning for our souls to be made whole." Her recollection
is as moving as it is thoughtful, conveyed in delicate but powerful prose.

A remarkable account of the author's journey through trauma.


“Captivating, moving, brilliant and like nothing you’ve ever read before. Lipiner Katz writes her soul in this must-read book that will surely be cherished by so many.”

—Hen Mazzig

The Algemeiner’s” Top 100 People Positively Influencing Jewish Life, 2021



Rena Lipiner Katz uses her masterful control of language to tell her spellbinding story of triumph over tragedy that is somehow unique to her position as the child of Holocaust survivors, and universal to anyone who has had to claw their way back from despair and heartbreak in order to find joy, success and, ultimately, peace.”

—Nancy Krulik

New York Times Best Selling Author

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