The Tower of Life

tower of life

Imagine what it would be like to live in a town where your generations of your family and the families of your neighbors had lived for 900 years. Cemeteries filled with the great grandparents, and their parents and their parents, and their parents. Yaffa lives in that town and it's called Eishyshok. It was a good place to live until the summer when the Germans came and rounded up all the Jewish people in this town.

In two days the entire town went silent. Everyone was dead or gone. Yaffa and her family escaped into the forest. Horrible things happened but Yaffa survived and went to America to begin a new life. She carried with her photographs of the people from her town.

Decades later a museum was being built in Washington D.C. to honor and remember all of the Jewish people lost in the Holocaust. President Jimmy Carter reached out to Yaffa to ask her to help build a memorial. Yaffa did not want to only look at the death and the suffering. She wanted to look at the lives and the joy. She remembered all the photographs that had been taken back in her town and she reached out across the world to ask survivors to share their photographs.

It took her 17 years but Yaffa gathered up 6,000 photographs.

With one page turn you will find yourself standing in the Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C. and you will see the tower of family life, of love, of joy that Yaffa created with 1,000 of these magnificent photographs. The power of survivors, of remembering, of honoring the lives that were lived before the Germans came in with evil, death and destruction.

There is a tremendous moment here - it's filled with life and love and light. It reaches into each of us to the special place we each hold inside - our soul - and it begins a vibration inside each reader - a vibration of the goodness in this world - and in each of us and we can feel the power in that goodness. It was a power so great it defeated the Nazis.

One little girl grew up and gathered all of this light so we could all have a place in the Holocaust Museum where we can see and experience love, light and laughter.

One of the most powerful picture books published this year.

Recommended by: Barb Langridge,


A moving biography of the woman who created The Tower of Life, a powerful exhibit at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, DC.

There once was a girl named Yaffa. She loved her family, her home, and her beautiful Polish town that brimmed with light and laughter. She also loved helping her Grandma Alte in her photography studio. There, shopkeepers, brides, babies, and bar mitzvah boys posed while Grandma Alte captured their most joyous moments on film. And before the Jewish New Year, they sent their precious photographs to relatives overseas with wishes for good health and happiness.

But one dark day, Nazi soldiers invaded the town. Nearly 3,500 Jewish souls ― including family, friends, and neighbors of Yaffa ― were erased.

This is the stunning true story of how Yaffa made it her life’s mission to recover thousands of her town’s photographs from around the world. Using these photos, she built her amazing TOWER OF LIFE, a permanent exhibit in the US Holocaust Memorial Museum, to restore the soaring spirit of Eishyshok.---from the publisher

40 pages                                          978-1338225891                                 Ages 7-10

Keywords:  picture book biography, Holocaust, women's history, Jewish, Nazis, World War II, prejudice and racism, inspiration, 7 year old, 8 year old, 9 year old, 10 year old, role of the individual, power of the individual, world history

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