Jumping Over Shadows: A Memoir

Jumping Over Shadows: A Memoir

by Annette Gendler


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The true story of a German-Jewish love that overcame the burdens of the past.

Finalist for the 2017 Book of the Year Award by the Chicago Writers Association

“A book that is hard to put down.”

Jerusalem Post

“This book confirms Annette Gendler as an indispensable Jewish voice for our time."

—Yossi Klein Halevi, author of Like Dreamers

"The ghosts of the past haunt a woman’s search for herself in this thoughtful, poignant memoir about the transformative power of love and faith.”

—Hillary Jordan, author of Mudbound , now a Netflix movie

“An exquisitely written conversion story which expounds upon personal and collective identity.”
Washington Independent Review of Books

“A compelling, gracefully written memoir about the impact of the past on the present.”

—Michael Steinberg, author of Still Pitching

History was repeating itself when Annette fell in love with Harry, a Jewish man, the son of Holocaust survivors, in Germany in 1985. Her Great-Aunt Resi had been married to a Jew in Czechoslovakia before World War II―a marriage that, while happy, put the entire family in mortal danger once the Nazis took over their hometown in 1938.

Annette and Harry’s love, meanwhile, was the ultimate nightmare for Harry’s family. Not only was their son considering marrying a non-Jew, but a German. Weighed down by the burdens of their family histories, Annette and Harry kept their relationship secret for three years, until they could forge a path into the future and create a new life in Chicago. Annette found a spiritual home in Judaism―a choice that paved the way toward acceptance by Harry’s family, and redemption for some of the wounds of her own family’s past.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9781631521706
Publisher: She Writes Press
Publication date: 04/04/2017
Pages: 232
Sales rank: 521,791
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.60(d)

About the Author

Annette Gendler is a writer and photographer. Her work has appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Tablet Magazine, Bella Grace , and Artful Blogging , to name a few. She served as the 2014–2015 writer-in-residence at the Hemingway Birthplace Home in Oak Park, Illinois. Born in New Jersey, she grew up in Munich, Germany, and lives in Chicago with her husband and three children. Visit her at www.annettegendler.com.

Table of Contents

First Thought 1

Fait Accompli I 8

Fust Date 17

Sholem Aleichem 24

Mea Culpa 28

Heading Off 31

Spain 34

The Talk 37

Israel 41

Behind Walls 51

Surberg 55

Sanatorium Brey 61

Verjudet 66

Crematorium 71

In the Stairwell 73

A Quarter and a Half 77

Unwanted Relations 82

The Flying Dutchman 89

This Is What It Means 100

Sheer of Ice 107

Fait Accompli II 110

Jumping Over the Shadow 112

Proposal 118

The Rabbi 121

Wedding Day 128

Conversion 134

Christmas 144

Gefilte Fish 151

Haselnusstorte 165

A German Jew Like You 167

The Pintele Yid 172

A Visit with the Past 174

Briosne 180

Sh'ma 191

Epilogue 209

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Jumping Over Shadows: A Memoir 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 2 reviews.
ReadersFavorite More than 1 year ago
Reviewed by Jack Magnus for Readers' Favorite Jumping Over Shadows is a nonfiction historical memoir written by Annette Gendler. Annette hadn’t really wanted to go to her friend Michael’s birthday party; her father had died unexpectedly just three weeks before that. Michael was insistent, however, and he promised that being among some young people would be just the right thing for her at that point. She was especially not interested in entering a romantic involvement, but somehow the political science student found herself listening to the discussion about the Middle East, and she couldn’t help but weigh in on it. Harry was a fluent and impassioned speaker who seemed to be of a mind with her on the topics, and who insisted on driving her home after the party ended. She had been reluctant to allow him to do so, as the trip home was a relatively long one, but she found herself enjoying the afternoon and that evening ride home much more than she had anticipated. For three years after that, the two would have an enduring and close relationship that defied everything that their families would have envisioned for each of them. The German-American young woman and French-Jewish man each had family history that seemed to make a life together an impossible thing at best, but their love was stronger than that. Annette Gendler’s nonfiction historical memoir, Jumping Over Shadows, was of particular interest to me as it chronicles the post-war experiences of Germans and Jews. I was stunned to realize just how few Jews were left in German-speaking parts of Europe, even as recently as the 1980s, and I was fascinated by the author’s accounts of her and Harry’s family histories. Her memoir is beautifully written, and the photographs are marvelous! I’ve only recently learned that my German grandfather was Jewish, so Gendler’s story was of particular significance for me. I too have wanted to learn more about Judaism and have considered conversion, so that part of the memoir which covered the early books she read, her studies with the rabbi’s wife and eventual conversion had personal value and impact -- I felt as if I were sharing her journey and learned a great deal along the way. Jumping Over Shadows is most highly recommended.
Nancy-Julien-Kopp More than 1 year ago
Jumping Over Shadows Annette Gendler has a winner with her recently released memoir, Jumping Over Shadows. She tells the story of her romance with a Jewish man in her home country of Germany in the 1980’s. They keep their relationship a secret until they want to marry and she must decide whether she can convert to Judaism after having been raised Catholic. Questions abound on both sides. Can her German Christian family accept the man she loves? Can Harry’s family give their blessing? Can she, and will she, convert to Judaism? Besides Annette and Harry’s story, the author delves back through the years using writing left by her grandfather to trace her family history. She finds parallels to her own situation. Her grandfather’s sister had married a Jewish man in Czechoslovakia prior to WWII which affected her family for many years. Annette Gendler’s fine writing brings her story to life, along with that of her great-aunt’s, as well. The end of each chapter left me eager to continue reading. I tried to put myself in the author’s place, wondering what I might have done in the same situation. It was not easy and it left me admiring the author’s journey to marriage and a new faith as it had to have been a difficult path. Visiting the past helps us understand the present which this memoir has accomplished. There were two things I would have liked to have seen in the book. One is a Family Tree which would have helped me sort out the relationships of her family more clearly. The other was that I wanted to know more about her children as they were born, not just seeing them as part of family trips in the latter part of the book. Both of these are small things and did not detract from my enjoyment of the book.