We Are Here
Memories of the Lithuanian Holocaust
University of Nebraska Press, March 2012
Winner of the Grub Street National Book Prize for Nonfiction, the Towson Prize for Literature, a Prakhin International Literary Foundation Award, and Finalist for a Book of the Year Award from ForeWord Reviews.
Ellen Cassedy set off into the Jewish heartland of Lithuania to study Yiddish and connect with her Jewish forebears.
Then her uncle, a Holocaust survivor, pulled a worn slip of paper from his pocket.
“Read this,” he said.
When she did, she learned something she had never suspected, and her journey to Lithuania changed forever. What had begun as a personal quest expanded into a groundbreaking exploration of how people in Lithuania – Jews and non-Jews – are confronting their Nazi and Soviet past in order to move forward into the future.
Probing the terrain of memory, massacre, and moral dilemmas, Ellen found herself challenged to ask: How do we honor our diverse heritages without perpetuating the fears and hatreds of the past?
Ellen’s journey changed her outlook on bystanders, victims, collaborators, rescuers – and herself. Her rich and deeply-felt account offers important insights – and hope.Read an Excerpt
About Ellen Cassedy
Ellen Cassedy has explored the world of the Lithuanian Holocaust for ten years. Her work has been published in Hadassah, The Forward, Shofar: An Interdisciplinary Journal of Jewish Studies, Polin, Bridges: A Jewish Feminist Journal, and other publications. She lives near Washington, D.C.
Praise for We Are Here
“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.”
Christopher R. Browning
New York Review of Books
“Cassedy’s quest is brilliantly balanced, totally engaging, and constantly penetrating.”
Philip K. Jason
Jewish Book World Magazine
“Focused…dramatic… clear prose and…emotional resonance.”
“Unusually engaging…a model for the study of interethnic relations.”
American Association for Polish-Jewish Studies
“Pioneering… will reach out to Jews, Lithuanians, and all those who care about not replaying in this new century the disasters of the century that has just ended.”
Dr. Michael Steinlauf
Author of Bondage to the Dead: Poland and the Memory of the Holocaust
“Engaging and lucid…quite an achievement…”
James M. Boubonis
“…challenges us to think again about what it means to remember the Holocaust….”
Laura Levitt (Temple University)
H-Judaic, H-Net Reviews
“She allows us to travel with her through a difficult and rewarding emotional and physical landscape. I truly enjoyed this book.”
“Deeply moving…her book offers a unique perspective…complex human texture, rooted in an oft-forgotten Yiddish cultural context, a tapestry of events which elsewhere too often appear as one-dimensional. Readers will doubtless be immensely enriched by her experience.”
Dr. Saulius Suziedelis
Millersville University, PA
“A most captivating read. Cassedy offers an extraordinary perspective, human and moving, to concerns which often are hidden by tired cliches, sentimentality, or anger. A rare document.”
Artist, author of Painted in Words, survivor of the Vilna Ghetto
“Engaging, informative, thought-provoking.”
Compelling Stories: Jewish Lives Lived
“Cassedy assembles and weaves together a historical quilt that provides an important context to a complex narrative.”
“In building a democratic Lithuania, we must have the courage to bring bitter truths out of the shadows and learn from our history. This eloquent book can help us to reach out, open our hearts, and rediscover one another in a spirit of mutual understanding.”
Hon. Valdas Adamkus
Former President of Lithuania
“An intimate, investigative approach…poignant.”
Baltimore Jewish Times
“Immersing herself in the study of Yiddish was like a prayer for her, a connection to her people…. It is clear from Ellen Cassedy’s experiences and research in Lithuania that the more we can listen to one another without judgment, the easier it will be to lessen the historical burden.”
“A courageous, moving, and informative book….Cassedy is unwilling to accept easy answers, to make easy condemnations.”
Outlook: Canada’s Progressive Jewish Magazine
“Cassedy…writes with a rare sensitivity toward all sides.”
Afn Shvel, the Yiddish Journal
“Ellen Cassedy is on to a crucial story of a new, post-Holocaust Eastern Europe, in which a few committed individuals are working to catalyze national introspection…. Ms. Cassedy asks herself and other Jews if they, too, might have reason for some self-questioning about the myths of the past.”
Dr. Erica Lehrer
Concordia University, Montreal, Canada
“[A] thorough and fascinating examination of a still contentious subject in Lithuania.”