How She Hustles – June 26, 2011


Founded in 2010 by Emily Mills, How She Hustles is a dynamic network created to shine the spotlight on the demanding but meaningful work that women do everyday through their full time jobs, volunteer or family commitments, or “side hustle.”  We host an annual women’s brunch in the spring and a fall fundraiser, profile inspiring women, and stay connected through our online Facebook community.

By Dione Robertson

Name: Shlomit Kriger

Full-time Hustle: Freelance writer and editor of Marking Humanity: Stories, Poems, & Essays by Holocaust Survivors

Part-time Hustle: Poet, visual artist, and songwriter.

Dream Job: Professional creative artist and expressive arts therapist.

What inspired you to compile and edit the book Marking Humanity: Stories, Poems & Essays by Holocaust Survivors?
In the summer of 2008, I volunteered for the Conversation Cafe program through Jewish Immigrant Aid Services to help newcomers practice speaking English. There I met the first Holocaust surviving contributor: George Scott (originally Spiegel), a fellow volunteer.  Born in Hungary, George was a teenager when he ended up at the Sarvar concentration camp and was later transported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in Poland. He arrived in Canada on a ship transporting child survivors in 1948.

When I met George, he was 78 years old, but possessed a contagious, positive energy, and zest for life. He also sometimes mentioned how happy he was and that he still believed in God. This inspired me, especially after the scope of life he has lived.

George brought in some of his poems to the program so the newcomers could practice reading them. At the end of that meeting, he handed me one of them and said I could keep it. I was surprised by this gesture. As I re-read his poem at home, I wondered how many other survivors there were with these creative pieces that haven’t been shared with the greater public and began to envision this book.

I wanted Marking Humanity to help celebrate the indomitable spirits of Holocaust survivors, while allowing them to share with others what came through their hearts and souls during and after that dark period in history. In addition, I found that there is much that people can learn from these individuals in terms of their resiliency, their ability to rebuild their lives and rise above hatred and evil inclinations, and their continued dreams and even compassion for humanity.

There has also been a continuing spread of antisemitism and other acts of discrimination and violence that have since occurred around the world, and it’s important that people consider the roles that they want to play in their own families and communities and create changes so future generations can really implement “Never Again.”

The cover of your book mentions some of the victims (coloured, criminals, homosexuals) as well as Jews. Does Marking Humanity also have their stories?
A few of the featured survivors aren’t Jewish, and some survivors were persecuted for political, ideological, or behavioral grounds. For example, a woman who lived in Poland became a political prisoner because she had lived in hiding with false papers and had an uncertain identity. During the Holocaust, it became dangerous for any individual that the Nazis considered a threat.

Are graphic novels a possibility in future projects?  What project would be ideal?
This is something I have considered and could be a possibility, probably more so for another book that would feature others’ writings or experiences.

As a writer is it difficult to start? What tried and true method to you use to overcome this?
It can be difficult to keep writing regularly. I find that sometimes doing some journalling or some stream-of-consciousness writing can help to get the creative juices flowing and even let go of any doubts or the idea that everything has to be “perfect” that can arise in the process.

Are you happy with your career?
I feel grateful for what I have been able to accomplish so far, and I’ve met lots of great and inspiring people along the way. I know what I’m passionate about, but there’s still more to learn and experiment with in terms of how I can continue to fuse my various interests and gain more success doing what I feel called to do.

What advice do you want to follow over the next year?
We can’t always have all the answers or predict how things will turn out. Sometimes it helps to take a step or two, experiment, and see where things may lead.

Describe yourself in six words:
Artistic, ambitious, caring, intuitive, spiritual, humanitarian.

About Shlomit:
Shlomit earned a Bachelor of Journalism from Ryerson University and completed a certificate with Foundations of Expressive Arts Therapy from ISIS Canada. She breathes passion and laser focus in her writing projects be it songs, poetry, articles (York Region Conservatory of Music, This Magazine, Canadian Jewish News, plus others) and volunteer gigs. She received an honourable mention in the 2011 Markham Arts Council Poetry Contest for her poem “The Real Me”.

About her book:
Who are the survivors of the Holocaust? They are people just like you—with hearts, minds, families, and dreams—who got caught in a torrent of hatred and discrimination that Germany’s Nazi regime instigated between 1933 and 1945. They experienced some of the worst atrocities known to mankind during one of the darkest periods in history. But the 46 featured survivors, who rebuilt their lives in the United States, Canada, Israel, Australia, England, and Germany, remained resilient and refused to be silenced. Now you can attain a first-hand glimpse into these survivors’ hardships, triumphs, courage, personal reflections, prayers, and growth through their bios and 70 writings revealing the depths of what came through them as they sought to make sense of their inner and outer worlds, amidst the chaos that ensued and as they went on to rediscover their place on the globe.

Shlomit and some of Holocaust survivors featured in this book are available to give presentations around the city.

For more info:
Visit the Soul Inscriptions Press website to learn more about Marking Humanity

Visit the “Marking Humanity Holocaust Anthology Book” Facebook page

EM’s NOTE: Thanks to Dione Robertson, who interviewed Shlomit for this How She Hustles profile. Dione is a comic and reading nerd and recently took a trip to Israel. She graduated from the Corporate Communications program at Humber College and is looking for a cool gig in the city. Send her a note via Facebook if you want to send job leads her way!