Buzz about Ben's Book
I am Jon Alban's mother in-law Honie Abramowicz. I recently finished reading your book. I can't say enough good things about it. It teaches so many life lessons as well as giving historical information. I am a psychotherapist & have worked with many clients who have gotten stuck in their tragic past. I feel your book can serve as an example of how to recover & thrive from the most horrific of experiences. Many people including myself don't like to look & acknowledge terrible things that are going on because as you said it is often more tolerable to believe the lie than the horrific truth. I hope everyone reads your book and learns the many lessons your book teaches but probably the most important one for me is that we need to be aware and prevent annihilation of not only the Jewish people people but all people because we all have something to contribute to the world. I feel we are again in scary times & I am so glad we have Israel who is aware & prepared to take action if need be. God I hope we can learn from history & don't repeat prior mistakes. So I hope your book awakes all of us especially those who have the power to do what is right. Thank you for writing this inspiring book & sharing your experiences with us. With highest regards,
With highest regards,
Review by Abbott Press - a division Writers Digest
Click here to read review
"Living a Life that Matters."
It really is an extraordinary story and an excellent learning tool for young adults and everyone else, especially with the footnote explanations. The quotation marks preceding the individual chapters gives much "Food for Thought" and also connects and piques more interest in the experiences that follow. In addition, the humorous incidents and experiences add light among the dark clouds and somehow lighten the burden even if it is only temporary.
Your tenacity, strength and ambition are to be admired and are a great example for our children to give of their best and they will receive the best. My husband is eagerly waiting for me to finish which will be very soon.
Dear "Papa Ben",
After reading Living A Life That Matters: From Nazi Nightmare to American Dream in one sitting, page by page, cover to cover, my life seems utterly changed. I just could not put the book down for a moment; it was as if eachcharacter of each event of each page was a part of my own life, my own family. So much so I, too, feel I can call you not Ben Lesser, but rather "Papa Ben" with all the deepest affection of my heart. I was completely absorbed in your life story. And I couldn't help but ponder how the hand of God has helped you write your story, from your boyhood days and adolescence to the present. He is the Sculptor; you are His tool. My words fall very short when I say "thank you" for sharing a part of your life with me. It has made a positive and profound impact on my life, and a poignant reminder that we are all an important member of broken humanity, that our lives are worth living and "living a life that matters" can change the face of the world around us... and beyond.
Living A Life That Matters was written from the heart, a broken heart from the "Nazi nightmare" and a mended heart from one who aspired and achieved the "American Dream". Your boyhood years were hauntingly painful to have witnessed and withstood the unthinkable. And yet The Holocaust could not eat away at yourspirit. In a word, your life resonates "hope", and in that hope you endured the barbarism of the Nazis with all its tragedy and trauma and, in the end, realized the American Dream. Your life, in all its anguish and afflictions, is a testament of poise and promise. You give me great hope! For this, I am indebted to you for being a role model to me; indeed, a pillar of strength, of stamina, and of courage. Again, my words fall short. You have helped me understand more fully that it isn't so much the hardships we face, for each one of us has our own trials and tribulations that are unique to us alone, but how we respond to them, and endure them. Thank you, dear friend.
Although I cannot comprehend how anyone in the 21st-century cannot learn from the horrific and fierce mistakes of world history, particularly that of genocides and holocausts of the 20th-century, I do believe I am accountable for my own choices. Therefore, it is without compromise that we live a life that matters, that we are an understanding people and embrace others' ethnic backgrounds, cultures and creeds. In our world today, there is just no place for intolerance, racism, injustice and indifference and yet, sadly, these human weaknesses continue, even as close as next door. Living A Life That Matters has helped alleviate that burden, and has moved the world one step closer to peaceful resolve and harmony. Your story is your history and it has helped form the remarkable person you are today (once again, my words fall very short).Your story is like a tiny seed that germinates in the hidden soil. After years of growth and maturity, even undergoing tempests and downpours (the difficulties of life), your branches remain strong and steady, and your foliage and flora are fertile and fruitful. Indeed, your life is living proof that the human spirit is stronger than an army of barbarous thugs! How one Jewish boy outlasted an entire Nazi regime is, in itself, a miracle multiplied, and a blessing to us all. You have done your People well, dear friend, and your family, present and past, sing out a hymn of thanksgiving.
Living A Life That Matters: From Nazi Nightmare to American Dream is an easy read, and a powerful one at that. That's how you will reach the young people through your story of remembrance! From beginning to end, you immerse the reader, like myself, to The Holocaust and challenge each one of us to search deep within ourselves for answers to some of history's simplest yet meaningful questions: How could man do such unspeakable acts to man? More striking a question today: How has the whole world not learned from crimes against humanity, a humanity we all belong to? What is my role today to ensure history not repeat itself? How can I prevent bullying, discrimination, and segregation from happening in my school or workplace or neighborhood? How can I reach out to someone who is victimized by such mistreatment? And finally, how can I teach and re-tell the story of The Holocaust in a meaningful way so our young people can learn - Zachor - and prevent from "acquiring amnesia"?
Your theme throughout Living A Life That Matters is Zachor - what you remember and what you want us to remember, so we do not become indifferent and complacent and lukewarm. Each page written, each stroke of the pen, overflows with vivid sketches of The Holocaust, of your own boyhood and adolescence, and that of your Jewish People. Without a doubt, you are an ordinary man who has lived and continues to live an extraordinary life. I am deeply touched by your autobiography; I am even more inspired when speaking with you over long distance; and with all humility, I will be in awe when I finally meet you in person (April 2012). Nothing could be more fantastic and wonderful than to meet you face-to-face! Having met Mother Teresa of Calcutta back in the 1980's, I am quickly reminded, through you, what she used to say, "Do small things with great love". Your life, with all its sorrow and success, has been one miracle after another, a marathon of hope, and sheer bravery in the face of evil during the darkest chapter of human history, namely the Holocaust of the Second World War. Even after 83 years, you continue to "do small things with great love". How honored I am, and blessed, that your life, in your 83rd year, has met up with mine in the Canadian arctic! It is another example of God's hand at work. Your life is a beacon of love, a true reflection of your family, that of your beloved wife Jean and your children and grandchildren, that of your beloved sister Lola and brother-in-law Mechel and their family, and lest weforget, that of your departed Mamiko and Tateko, your little brother Tuli and older brother Moishe, your elder sister Goldie, and so many of your relatives andfriends, stolen from you and Lola like a thief in the night, torn apart from your arms in Nazi-occupied Poland.
Your book is not just a story; it is a real-life human story of a boy forced to become a man under excruciating conditions and seemingly impossible measures. We have heard much about The Holocaust in textbooks and documentaries, but not near enough the larger-than-life accounts of those few who survived it, and fewer who remain, of the ordeal of The Holocaust they faced. Your story helps me "Remember" the pain man inflicted on man, but also man's resilience and resistance, and finally, man's determination to live, to live a life that matters as you so eloquently have proven. Your life is one that moves the heart closer to thesoul so the two become one. After reading Living A Life That Matters: From Nazi Nightmare to American Dream, I am even more determined to live what years I have left with stronger purpose and in the hope of helping others attain that same conclusion.
When I think of you as a young lad in Poland, "Little Ben" comes to mind. Now 67 years following the end of World War II and at 83 years old, "Big Ben" comes to mind. But the more I listen to you and speak with you and stand in humble awe of you, "Papa Ben" is all that I am left with. Since reading your story, the world appears more colorful and peaceful, thanks to you. Thank you, Papa Ben, for walking into my life, a life I am determined to live that matters.
Respectfully your friend in the Canadian arctic,
Mr. Ben Lesser's memoir, Living a Life That Matters" from Nazi Nightmare to American Dream, is a triumphant tale of surviving the Holocaust and then going on to live a professionally and personally successful life. It is extremely motivational. As a teacher, I thoroughly enjoyed using the book to teach my students. Mr. Lesser's explanations of the terms used throughout the story made it more accessible for my students. On a more personal note, the book brought me to tears. I was inspired by Mr. Lesser's bravery, which was something that my students could not stop talking about after they saw him speak and read excerpts from his book. I was also inspired by his drive to succeed after surviving his horrific ordeal. I met Mr. Lesser through a Holocaust survivor's website when I asked him to come and speak to our high school. Reading through his book reminded me of that poignant moment when I first heard his speech. The book is an absolute must-read for anyone interested in learning more about the Holocaust.
I could not put it down, so I read every available moment and just finished it. Congratulations! It is well written, easy to read, and a "page turner".
I must have read dozens of Holocaust books, covering almost every aspect of it. Your book is unique for me in the fact that you first went through the Polish Holocaust experience, and then again through the Hungarian Holocaust experience. And you survived both to live a life that matters!
Being a child of two Hungarian Holocaust survivors, I am intimately familiar with the Shoah, and could relate to your feelings about remembering. I know all about the transports, the selection, the "Lager", the factories, etc. Your survival instincts, your quickness, your determination, your strength, your industry, your intelligence, all come through in "Living a Life that Matters" And it really matters!
Ben Lesser's amazing and lasting gift to humanity shines on every page of his book. He lights our way from the darkest pages of a child's sudden plunge into the despairs of Naxi Germany to his stunning transformation (rebirth) to new life in America. How did he do it? How Is it possible to survive and recreate one's life? Lesser's intimate story is a page-turner with a unique gift for every reader. He gives us rare insights into how we can overcome the worst of circumstances. We live through his incredible life-and-death adventures to survive and triumph...a privilege Lesser shares in his book by laying bare the wounds of the past, reconstituting his scars into badges of courage.
Ben Lesser's love story with his soul-mate touches our hearts and his success as a professional business man touches our minds. Hearts and Minds together, we embrace Ben Lesser and his book which deserves to stand as a unique testimony to the human spirit and the power of the written word.L. Merrin
I am thrilled to recommend this book to all people who might find themselves harboring any feelings of hatred or even early signs of intolerance toward another human being/group of human beings. Even if a person doesn't believe that they entertain these feelings personally, it's is important to keep in mind that the forces of evil are ever present amongst humanity and remembering history, as well as understanding what led to this atrocity (the Holocaust), can never be forgotten or edited out of history. Not only are the memories of innocent human beings which were sacrificed are at stake, the future of mankind is as well, if we collectively forget about the "seeds of contention" or the belief patterns of groups of people that ultimately allowed the growth of extreme hatred which fueled this horrific event. This is the first book that I've ever read in which I was unable to "put down" after being captivated by the story. Between my weeping and deep feelings of horror, I found myself living (vicariously) through Ben's experiences as he had lived them. Ben has been given the talent to orchestrate the story of his life wherein the reader can "taste" the atrocities that were thrust upon him at such a young age, while maintaining the strength of human spirit that few people can begin to imagine, much less survive and ultimately thrive! To label him a hero would be to redefine the current vernacular belief that somehow a hero is someone who does something heroic as defined by one's culture. Tastefully, the author clarifies the truest meaning of human heroism by his personal survival of one, if not the worst, human cruelty in man's history. It is an honor to know this man personally and it is without reservation that I strongly recommend this as essential reading to young adults everywhere, for the purpose of attaining an understanding that our collective tolerance for one another, amongst the family of man, may decide the fate of the human race in the near future!
Dr. S.D. Moore
Living A Life That Matters: from Nazi Nightmare to American Dream by Ben LesserThoughts from:
Ann T. Raskin, MS Education
Reading 7th Molasky Junior High School
Las Vegas, NV
In 2007, former Clark County Superintendent of Schools, Walt Ruffles, advocated for Holocaust education utilizing the Speaker's Bureau of the Holocaust Survivor's Group of Southern Nevada - and, that is how, as a Reading 7th grade teacher, I met Ben, my first meeting with a Holocaust survivor.
I wanted everything to be perfect. I wanted to show the upmost respect to someone who had survived the most horrific, illogical period in mankind's history, something I had only known through readings. By having Ben tell his life story, I wanted my students to craft their own decisions about the Holocaust and its ramifications based on their personal choices, values, and integrity. I wanted my students to reflect on how they could use that knowledge in their future lives to become the best person they could. As Ben told them, "You are the last generation to hear from us and that doesn't come easily. The responsibility is now placed upon you to tell your offspring that you were a witness, that you listened, that you saw, that you heard. It's your responsibility to keep this world from acquiring amnesia."
Before Ben's speaking engagement at my school, I wanted to preview his presentation in preparation for my students and went to hear him speak at the University of Las Vegas, Las Vegas, NV. I now understood why he had said, "Two hours is not enough to tell my story."
However, one of the most significant things witnessed after this presentation was the repeated inquiries of Ben as to whether he had written a book about his life. Everyone wanted more of "Ben". At that time, the answer was a sad, "No," but now in 2011, we have Ben's book, Living a Life that Matters: from Nazi Nightmare to American Dream". Everyone can now get their fill of "Ben" but in actuality, even this book cannot capture a man that will never cease to accomplish and inspire others for generations to come.
Throughout the book, Ben's questions are our questions -
- How could a civilized, cultured country like Germany do this?
- Why were the Jewish people so singled out to be persecuted and exiled?
- The Nazi's believed Jews were too dirty to be considered human beings, yet their homes and belongings weren't too dirty to steal - why?
- Why is it that it is easier to believe a lie than a truth?
- How could the unimaginable become routine?
- Even if the physical strength was regained, could the stolen humanity be regained?
Not only do we learn from Ben's life experience during the Holocaust, but as a reader we benefit from Ben's extensive readings about the Holocaust.
Ben's book also provides a whole new dimension for teaching about the Holocaust. In my classroom, there is a banner that reads, "There is no nobility in being better than someone else; the only nobility is being better than who you were yesterday." Living a Life that Matters, just reinforces that idea. Middle school students need more than the core learning objectives, they need life skills as well. Bullying, fighting, and family problems are issues that occupy more of a student's mind than state reading objectives.
My first highlighted sentences in Ben's book were, "I have come to understand that so much of what happens in life is the result of seemingly simple choices . . . that people do not understand that they have the power to make choices that will determine the course of their lives . . . education, more than anything else, allows us to evaluate circumstances, make good choices, and take effective action. It's our best weapon against ignorance and hate."
Students might ignore such ideas when a parents says it to them, even when a teacher presents these ideas, but how could any student ignore such wisdom when it comes from a Holocaust survivor - who got up every morning and did whatever he had to do to live just another hour - who has lived a life that matters and found the American Dream?
Ben's use of quotes and explanation of historical facts make it easy for students to further relate to the information Ben has to share with them. What Ben probably doesn't realize is that his own sayings or "Ben-isms" will undoubtedly be quoted and repeated by others. Here are some "Ben-ism" favorites that I will share with students:
- I learned that even when I had to make difficult choices, I should try to determine what the right thing to do was and then do it.
- Do everything the right way - no short cuts.
- At great risk of certain torture and death, Mr. Roth consistently chose to do the right thing . . . he never lost his humanity.
- Never let adversity or injuries break your spirit or keep you from accomplishing your goals.
- Have disciplined restraint. (bread on train)
- Take responsibility for your words and actions.
- Take responsibility for solving problems instead of using them as an excuse for not succeeding.
- Make choices that are consistent with living a life that matters.
- Choose effective, honorable ways to deal with the most difficult circumstances, so that the past won't contaminate the future.
- Choose to move ahead toward success or stay stuck in misery.
- Choose to express respect instead of hate.
- I would earn the right to live the American Dream.
- Be the best at whatever you do. (And just as in the past, I knew that in order to compete, I would have to be much better than just good - I would have to be the best in this profession.)
- We share a common humanity - honor our shared humanity rather than despise our differences.
- I have chosen to live a meaningful life instead of letting Hitler's fire continue to consume me.
The following impressive Jewish Proverb quotes were not Ben's but quoted by him:
- I ask not for a lighter burden but for broader shoulders.
- When you have no choice, mobilize the spirit of courage.
Again, Ben's extensive knowledge - he is probably one of the top five most brilliant people that I've ever met - is demonstrated by his explanations of the historical events and Jewish customs and his ability to find a quote that further deepens our understanding of his life story and the Holocaust itself.
Ben has spoken many times for my classes since that first time, five years ago. He even participated in a Socratic Seminar with high school students and two other Holocaust Survivors where a student wrote, "It really meant a lot that they (the survivors) came on their own time and it wasn't like they came and didn't leave us with anything. They left history in this classroom and they left their presence within me." With these numerous presentations by Ben, I thought I knew everything about Ben. After reading this book, I realized there was so much more to Ben. His life wasn't just the Holocaust - because he chose to live a meaningful life, there was love, joy, humor (uranium prospecting) and success. I respected and honored Ben when we first met and eventually just fell in love with Ben for all that he has done to inspire my students and myself.
Ben has written that writing this book has been immensely rewarding for him - for the rest of us, this book should serve as a precious gift, making us question who we are as a person, who we can become, and how we can live a meaningful life - all in the backdrop of a man who survived the Holocaust and found the American Dream and so much more.