About Ellen

Ellen CassedyAs a speaker, journalist, author of non-fiction books, and Yiddish translator, Ellen Cassedy connects the stories of ordinary people with social issues. Ellen, the author of We Are Here, has explored the world of Lithuania’s Holocaust past, the homeland of her Jewish forebears, the Soviet era, and Lithuanian hopes for the future for ten years.  She is a frequent speaker about Jewish and Lithuanian issues. She is the winner of the 2013 Grub Street National Book Prize for Nonfiction, the Prakhin International Literary Foundation Award, the 2013 Towson Prize for Literature, the Silver Medal in History, Book of the Year Award, ForeWord Reviews, and the 2012 Translation Prize awarded by the Yiddish Book Center (with her colleague Yermiyahu Ahron Taub). Her tips for writers are featured on SheWrites, the online women writers' community, and on The Savvy Book Marketer.

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Awards and Reviews

• Grub Street National Book Prize for Nonfiction
• Towson Prize for Literature
• Prakhin International Literary Foundation Award
• Silver Medal in History, ForeWord Reviews
• Best Book Award, Assoc. for the Advancement of Baltic Studies
• Shortlist, William Saroyan International Prize for Writing

"In the Cauldron," a review by Christopher R. Browning New York Review of Books "Cassedy resists Lithuanian attempts to place Jewish and Lithuanian suffering 'side by side'....She listens to all the voices and perspectives....She attempts to know and comprehend rather than judge."

Book Review: We Are Here: Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust, by Philip K. Jason Jewish Book Council "Brilliantly balanced, totally engaging, and constantly penetrating."

Book Review: We Are Here, by Sean Martin American Association for Polish-Jewish Studies “Unusually engaging…a model for the study of interethnic relations.”

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Recent Publications

Ellen is a regular contributor to SheWrites, where her monthly [TIPS OF THE TRADE] feature offers advice for writers. She writes frequently about Lithuanian/Jewish relations, culture, & history.

Read her most recent publications:

Out of the Vilna Ghetto: Dust – and Determination, Huffington Post

Is Vilniaus geto: dulkes ir ryztas, Bernardinai.lt

On International Holocaust Remembrance Day, Questions for the Holocaust Museum, Huffington Post

Lithuania’s Difficult Journey, Jewish Currents

Ar Vilnius gali prisiminti Vilna?, 15min.LT

A Summer at the Vilnius Yiddish Institute (in Yiddish!) Summer/fall 2013, Afn Shvel

Remembering the Holocaust in Lithuania, ReformJudaism.org

I Am Here: A Jewish woman’s journey to Lithuania, Na’amat Woman magazine

Samuel Bak: Painter of the Vilna Ghetto, VilNews

[TIPS OF THE TRADE] Joys of Book Promotion

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Beautiful Hills of Brooklyn

Ellen’s award-winning play, Beautiful Hills of Brooklyn, celebrates the spare beauty of a small but important life. Based on the diary of an actual elderly woman, it was adapted into a short film that won 18 festival awards and qualified for an Academy Award nomination.

"After my great-aunt Jessie died," Ellen writes, "I opened a drawer and discovered a diary she’d begun keeping at the age of 76, living alone in Brooklyn in the 1970’s. I found myself mesmerized by her simple, spare language, and by what she had to tell me about the joys and sorrows of old age – in fact, about life itself. I wanted her voice to be heard."

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Upcoming Speaking Engagements

Ellen Cassedy speaks to a wide variety of audiences about the Holocaust, Lithuania, and Jewish culture.

See all of Ellen's speaking engagements or invite Ellen to speak to your community.