MCHE Common Book

The public is invited to read the book and join us for a community-wide discussion at 6:30 pm January 17, 2023 via Zoom. Registration below.

Although the Holocaust has become almost synonymous with the gas chambers of Auschwitz, it is important to remember that before the Nazis turned to systematic, stationary methods of genocide, they first murdered Europe’s Jews through other means. Following the invasion of Soviet territory in the summer of 1941, Germany sent mobile killing units called Einsatzgruppen to execute the Jews living within these areas. This process is often referred to as the “Holocaust by bullets.”

Unlike the process of transporting victims to killing centers, this method murdered people within the context of their own communities, often witnessed by other locals. Some of those present photographed what they saw. One such photograph is the subject of this year’s Common Book. The Ravine, by Dr. Wendy Lower, uncovers the history of this single photograph. The image uniquely shows a Jewish family at the moment of murder at a massacre site in Ukraine. Lower’s extraordinary work recovers the identities of this mother and her children, the killers, and the Slovakian photographer who took the image as an act of resistance.  Lower provides new understanding of the place of the family unit in the ideology of Nazi genocide.

Awards: Winner, 2022 National Jewish Book Award and Shortlist, 2022 Wingate Literary Prize

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