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Books Give Back 

Words have power. They transport. They transcend. They persuade. They unite. In my journey as an author, and with the publication of my debut novel, I've had the opportunity to speak to audiences of varying ages and use the lessons of the past to help shape the future. This has inspired me to start a new initiative on my website with one goal: to reach people through the written word. Books Give Back will feature personal accounts of those who face unjust legislation, discrimination, or prejudice. It will highlight banned books on important subjects. It will offer you an opportunity to create your own book honoring a loved one. And each month, a portion of the proceeds of the sale of What She Lost will go toward worthy causes and charities. I invite you to join me on this journey and help make a difference. Read on to learn more! 

My Mission

As an author, I use words to bring attention to issues I feel are important, on a global and personal level. My first novel, What She Lost, is based on my grandmother's life as a Holocaust survivor. Published as both an adult and young adult novel, I have shared her story with audiences of all ages, including many school-aged readers. It is my hope that bringing awareness to this subject will help diminish stereotypes and inspire younger generations to speak out against prejudice and discrimination.  

 

Today, there are so few survivors left to give first-hand accounts of what they witnessed. Sharing my grandmother's story is one way I am making sure the lessons of the Holocaust are not forgotten. I also see much prejudice, polarization, and hatred in the world today. In recent years, there has been a rise in anti-Semitism (and bigotry and intolerance in general). I never imagined I'd see this in my own lifetime. I hope to use my passion to tackle these issues, give a voice to those who feel marginalized, and . . . through words . . .  educate readers so that history does not repeat itself. 

“Empathy is about standing in someone else’s shoes, feeling with his or her heart, seeing with his or her eyes. Not only is empathy hard to outsource and automate, but it makes the world a better place.” - Daniel Pink

Featured Initiative:

In Their Own Words: Putting a Human Face to War

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MY WHY: On October 7, 2023, my world changed. The horrors committed by Hamas on innocent Israeli citizens broke my heart. Since then, the uptick in antisemitism has been frightening to witness. As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, I am worried that the past will repeat itself. 

 

 

 

On Sunday, January 28, a local congregation hosted an evening with some of the survivors of the October 7th attack on the moshav (village) of Netiv HaAsara. "Stories of Resilience from Netiv HaAsara" included personal accounts by five residents of the moshav, the closest of any Israeli community to the Gazan border. Before October 7th, the residents of this community lived under almost daily rocket fire from Gaza, rushing to safe rooms regularly to protect their families. Despite all of this, members of Netiv HaAsara focused on peace, even building a beautiful mosaic peace wall with a dove facing Gaza. Cincinnati was just one of their stops across the United States, where the delegation was also scheduled to visit Miami, Los Angeles, and New York. The goal of their visit was to tell in their own words what they witnessed on October 7 so that their stories might be better understood and not forgotten.

"As a human being, I am horrified."

"As a mother, I am devastated."

"As a Jewish person, I am heartbroken."

"As a granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, I am in absolute disbelief."

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Residents of Netiv HaAsara speak to attendees of "Stories of Resilience from Netiv HaAsara" on January 28, 2024 

I attended the event for The American Israelite, and I sat in shocked silence as these brave humans shared their heartbreaking stories with the crowd. Something stirred in me that I couldn't explain . . . listening to them recount how they were attacked in their own homes and witnessed so much terror, I was reminded of what my grandmother experienced during the Holocaust. Here I was, sitting in my safe suburban community, listening to stories that sounded too horrific to be real . . . yet they were. These five individuals had been through hell. They could have been my neighbors, friends, family. As I sat in the audience, I couldn't fathom that what they had experienced hadn't taken place in the past, but merely months ago.

 

Their stories stayed with me long after I left that evening. I lay in bed that night thinking about what I had heard. I replayed their stories throughout the following week. I felt helpless, wanting to do SOMETHING. And in the wake of October 7, with antisemitism at an all-time high, I constantly wonder, have we learned nothing from the past?

Human memory is short lived, especially when it comes to the Jewish people.

Haunted by my evening with the residents of Netiv HaAsara, I reached out to the organizers of the event and expressed an interest in working with them to record their accounts. I knew from my own experience writing about my grandmother that storytelling has the power to "humanize" experiences, to allow readers to step into another's shoes for a spell. Without delving into politics or participating in hateful, accusatory rhetoric, I proposed to simply write about what each person witnessed in the hopes of preserving their stories and sharing their truth. I was thrilled when the organizers and Israeli residents wrote back and said they were interested in collaborating. This has led to my latest 2-part project:

PART ONE: My upcoming blog, "In Their Own Words," will publish these stories and provide ways for you to help, as dictated by the residents of Netiv HaAsara. PART TWO: Once all accounts have been recorded, we plan to publish a book to share these stories with a larger audience. Proceeds will go toward helping this community rebuild, emotionally as well as physically. Interested? I invite you to stay tuned and follow my blog for posts and updates. 

Thank you.

Melissa 

Ongoing Initiative

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Alzheimer's Association

MY WHY: My father has always been my hero. Growing up, he was there for me no matter what, and he showed me what unconditional love and support means. To see Alzheimer's rob him of his memories, and rob us of the man we know and love, has been heartbreaking. This cause is very near and dear to my heart, and I hope you will consider donating to help bring about the end to this devastating disease.

Ongoing Initiative

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Anti-Defamation League

MY WHY: As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, teaching the lessons of the Holocaust has become my life's work. With the recent rise in anti-Semitism, fueled by the events of October 7, 2023, the fight to educate and bring awareness to acts of hate has never been more important. Education, especially of younger generations, and speaking out against injustice is crucial, now more than ever.

Branch

My father is a man of immeasurable strength, intelligence, compassion, and love, and he lived an incredible life. That's why it's so hard to watch as his Alzheimer's progresses. As his memories fade, I have begun to chronicle his life story for my own sake, for my children, and the rest of our family. Not only am I recording his legacy, but I'm putting on paper the wonderful memories I have of a man who was always larger than life in my eyes.

This led me to the idea of creating the Leaves of Legacy project.

 

What is Leaves of Legacy?

Leaves of Legacy is a project I am undertaking to write books about the lives of those living with Dementia, Alzheimer's, or any other incapacitating illness. To create this book, I will interview those suffering from the illness (if possible), as well as their loved ones, to chronicle and, most importantly, honor the life of that individual. This can be done in person in a comfortable setting, or online by ordering a Leaves of Legacy package. All it takes is a little bit of time and a lot of love. Leave the rest to me!

 

What do I get?

The completed book will feature different chapters in an individual's life as well as their family's memories of cherished moments. The book will also showcase photos, documents (like graduation certificates, marriage certificates, etc.), or anything else  the family would like to preserve on the page. My goal is to create a professionally-bound book for the family to have as a keepsake, one they can revisit over the years that will hopefully bring joy and comfort as they remember their loved-one.

 

Is there a cost?

While there will be a slight charge for my time and resources, I plan to donate half the proceeds of every book I create to the Alzheimer's Association or a charity of the family's choice. For more information or to schedule an initial conversation, please reach out to me  at authormwhunter@gmail.com

I look forward to working with you to create your family's very own Leaves of Legacy book.

By purchasing your copy of What She Lost on my Books Give Back page, I will donate 75% of the proceeds to the cause of your choice, as selected below.

Buy the book and donate to a good cause!
How will you donate?

Thank you for your order! Your book(s) will be mailed out in the next 48 hours. If you have any questions or concerns, don't hesitate to reach out to me. Peace and be well. -Melissa

Each book comes autographed with a bookmark, personalized thank-you note, and additional materials to help you in your own journey to give back.

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