For whom was this book written?
For many years, Mr. Starck has spoken publicly to schools and other organizations about his experiences during the Holocaust. While doing so, Mr. Starck observed that with each new generation of teens, there is growing distance and disconnect from the memory of the tragic events of the Holocaust, and its compelling lessons. In response, Mr. Starck was inspired to record a memoir of his experiences specifically targeted to "tweens" (ages 10-14). This is the age at which youth are most commonly first introduced to the events of the Holocaust. Mr. Starck, himself only 14 when thrust into the horrors of that era, strongly feels the importance of transmitting his message to this age group.
This book is for the young and old, religious and secular, Jewish and gentile alike. It was written for anyone and everyone who wishes to better understand some of the events of the Holocaust era and to be inspired by one young man's struggle for spiritual survival.
What is Yiddish and the significance of its use in this book?
Yiddish is a cultural language used by Jews of Ashkenazic descent and originated in the 9th century in Central Europe. Prior to WWII there were 11-13 million Yiddish speakers. Of the Jews who perished in the Holocaust, 85% were Yiddish speakers.
The choice to infuse Srulek's story with Yiddish words and terms serves two primary purposes: it keeps the narrative faithful to the culture and mores of 1940s Jewish Eastern Europe and maintains the authenticity of the era. Secondly, it is an educational tool to introduce the modern reader to a forgotten language with a vast lexicon of terms and words commonly used among the Jewish communities of Eastern Europe. A comprehensive glossary covering all the Yiddish and Hebrew words is provided in the appendix.
I'm an educator or parent. What's the best way to utilize this book in the classroom or home?
A Boy Named 68818 is not only a gripping true-life historical account. It is also being lauded as an indispensable guide for both the educator and student of Holocaust studies.
The author has included a glossary, timeline and historical overview. But what sets this memoir apart from many other Holocaust-themed books is its in-depth and practical learning guide called "Exploring Srulek's World". This appendix provides a breakdown of the book’s chapters, analyzing the text and exploring the themes of history, ethics, morality, spiritual values, Jewish heritage, and literature. The learning guide conveniently suggests related topics for research and exploration, and highlights themes which provide a platform for discussions appropriate for the home and classroom alike.
The learning guide is certainly not exhaustive. For the parent/educator, there is no limit as to how to engage the child/student when discussing this difficult yet imperative subject. We'd love to hear your suggestions and ideas for ways you utilize A Boy Named 68818 to inform and educate! We look forward to hearing from you.
Has Israel Starck ever returned to the camps or his hometown?
Mr. Starck has made several trips back to Eastern Europe. Of particular note, he accompanied the March of the Living 2000 tour as Living Historian. In addition, in 2006, Mr. Starck made a personal heritage trip back to his hometown of Podhoryan, and the nearby city of Munkács (today called Mukachevo, and located in Ukraine), in which he had attended school and had had extended family. Mr. Starck was blessed in being able to bring his wife, children and grandchildren on some of these trips to bear witness, and retrace the footsteps of his childhood.
Where is Israel Starck today?
Today Mr. Israel "Srulek" Starck and his wife reside in Chicago and Jerusalem. He is a father to seven, and has over 45 grandchildren and great-grandchildren. Mr. Starck, with G-d’s help, founded a successful business, and is now semi-retired. He is active in his community and enjoys spending time with his growing family.
Can I contact Mr. Starck for questions or speaking engagements?
Mr. Israel Starck is happy to try and answer your questions regarding his story and experiences. He can be reached through the contact form.
Due to time and travel constraints, Mr. Starck is not always available to speak at as many venues as he would like. Requests will be considered on a case-by-case basis.