The Blessing of a Broken Heart

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9781592640294: The Blessing of a Broken Heart

WINNER of the National Jewish Book Award, 2004

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Review:

Of all the spiritual memoirs written about the healing power of love, this is one of the best and most relevant for our times. Author Sherri Mandell (Writers of the Holocaust had good reason to become a beacon of rage and despair after enduring the horrific murder of her eldest son Koby. Mandell, an American-born writer raising her family in Israel, sent her 13-year-old son off to school on May 8th, 2001. But Koby never made it to school that day. Instead he skipped school to go hiking with his friend Yosef. The two boys' bodies were found the next day—bludgeoned to death in a cave near Koby's home in Tekoa. Palestinian terrorists were blamed for the attacks, although the murderers were never found.

News of the brutal murders swept across the world. The boys were held up as martyrs, symbols for the age-old hatred between two sets of people. Mandell might have used Koby's death to fuel this ancient conflict. But instead she offers a beautiful memoir, written almost like a prose-poem that recounts her transformation from grief into love and compassion. Ultimately she founded the Koby Mandell Foundation, which offers healing retreats for bereaved mothers and widows as well as a camp for children whose parents or siblings have been killed by terrorists. Despite the inspiring journey, this is not a sugar-coated story. Mandell is not afraid to share the specifics of her sorrow—-and some of the passages are wrenching. "Just the night before he died, he lifted me up to show how strong he was," she recounts. "Then we measured and compared ourselves in the mirror, standing back to back. He was a fraction of an inch shorter then me. And now he will never reach me." This is a stellar memoir, speaking to the ever-constant challenge to cultivate love. --Gail Hudson

About the Author:

SHERRI MANDELL was born in New York and graduated from Cornell University, where she received her M.A. in creative writing. She taught writing at the University of Maryland and at Dean State. She is the author of Writers of the Holocaust, (Facts on File, 2000) and has written for numerous magazines and journals, including The Washington Post, Denver Post and The Jerusalem Post. She moved to Israel in 1996, where she lives in Tekoa with her family, and is now director of The Koby Mandell Foundation Women's Healing Retreats for Bereaved Mothers and Widows.

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