ROCKLAND — On Wednesday, April 27, the Farnsworth Art Museum, in partnership with the Adas Yoshuron Synagogue, presents a book talk with author Rachael Cerrotti of “We Share The Same Sky: A Memoir of Memory & Migration.” The lecture includes an introduction by Acting Chief Curator of Farnsworth, Jane Bianco. Bianco is curator of the exhibition “Leonard Baskin: I Hold The Cracked Mirror Up to Man”, on view at Farnsworth’s Crosman Gallery through January 15, 2023. The program, in recognition of Yom Hashoah (Holocaust Remembrance Day), takes place 6-7 p.m. in person in the Farnsworth Auditorium and live via Zoom. A book signing immediately follows the in-person event.
Along with the exhibit, the museum and synagogue feature an author’s personal family story of courage and survival. In 2009, Cerrotti, a college student pursuing a career in photojournalism, asked her grandmother, Hana, if she could record her story. Rachael knew that her grandmother was a Holocaust survivor and the only one of her family alive at the end of the war. Rachael also knew that she had survived thanks to the kindness of strangers. It was no secret. Hana has spoken about her story publicly and regularly. But, Rachael wanted to document it like only a granddaughter could. So that’s what they did: Hana spoke and Rachael wrote.
When Hana passed away in 2010, Rachael discovered an incredible archive of her life. There were preserved scrapbooks and hundreds of photographs dating back to the 1920s. There were letters awaiting translation, diaries, diaries, deportation and immigration documents as well as creative writings from various stages of Hana’s life.
Rachael digitized and organized it all, taking it from the past and placing it in her present. Then, she began to trace her grandmother’s story, following her through Central Europe, Scandinavia and across the United States.
“We Share The Same Sky” weaves together the stories of these two young women – Hana as a refugee who stays one step ahead of the Nazis at every turn, and Rachael, whose insatiable curiosity to touch the past guides her through the lives of countless strangers, bringing her love and tragic loss. As she turns 20, Hana’s story becomes a guide for Rachael on how to live a life empowered by grief.
Cerrotti is an award-winning author, photographer, educator and audio producer. Her work explores the intergenerational impact of war and the legacy of memory. She is currently Inaugural Storyteller-in-Residence for the USC Shoah Foundation, where she produces and hosts “The Memory Generation” podcast.
In 2019, Rachael released her first podcast – “We Share the Same Sky”. It was the first-ever narrative podcast based on the testimony of a Holocaust survivor and tells the story of her decade-long journey to uncover her grandmother’s war history. “We Share The Same Sky” was listed as one of HuffPost’s Top Podcasts of the Year, a Reader’s Pick by Vulture Magazine, and as “Show We Love” by Apple Podcasts; it is now taught in high school classrooms around the world. Her critically acclaimed debut memoir, also titled “We Share The Same Sky”, was published in August 2021. It received a star-studded review from Publisher’s Weekly and was listed as one of the best books of the month by Apple Books. . Rachael’s work has been published and featured by NPR, PRI’s The World, GBH, The Boston Globe, The Washington Post, People Magazine, BBC, The Times of Israel and various other publications.
In 2017, Rachael was the subject of an award-winning multimedia series produced by Boston’s NPR station WBUR called “Beyond Sides of History.” Her stories have been used in curricula developed by and for Discovery Education, USC Shoah Foundation, Echoes & Reflections, Facing History & Ourselves, Jewish Women’s Archive and others. She has worked and consulted with museums such as the Museum of Jewish Heritage and the Florida Holocaust Museum. She serves communities around the world and teaches students ranging in age from elementary school to adult education. Rachael holds a degree in communications from Temple University and is an alumnus of the Rothberg International School at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. She has attended seminars for educators with Yad Vashem and Facing History & Ourselves.
This program is free. For more information or to register for the event in person or via streaming, visit farnsworthmuseum.org.
The author discusses the unexpected in the search for his roots