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BEARING WITNESS

Boca Raton Author Allison Nazarian Shares Her Family’s Story Of Healing And Hope After The Holocaust BY STACEY FEINTUCH

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or author Allison Nazarian, the most important event in her life may have occurred before she was even born. Why? Because she is the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. Nazarian, 45, grew up in the Maryland suburbs of Washington, D.C. She was raised in a home where her maternal grandparents and mother, Lily, told tales of Holocaust survival. “Everything was somehow related to the Holocaust,” says Nazarian, a Boca Raton resident. “It wasn’t depressing or sad, even though it was horrible. It was a triumph that my grandmother survived that.” As she moved into adulthood, Nazarian started examining her family history. Why did the past empower her grandmother, who passed away in her 90s, but haunt her mother, who struggled with clinical depression and ultimately took her own life at age 51? “It wasn’t like now, where people talk about their past and childhood,” she says. “I think she almost felt shame around it.” Nazarian’s memoir, “Aftermath: A Granddaughter’s Story of Legacy, Healing & Hope,” was published last year. She started writing it

Allison Nazarian

People really opened up to me and told me their stories about the Holocaust. The more they opened up, the more similarities our stories had. when she was a graduate student at Columbia University’s Graduate School of Journalism in the late ’90s. She had to put the book on the backburner, but she finally finished it – nearly 20 years later. “It’s never too late to finish the thing you want to, even if you think you’re too old, busy or time has passed,” she says. “If something is burning inside you, you can do it.” 36

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During her research process, she spoke with 100 grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. It’s one of the first books to focus on third-generation – or “3G” – survivors, she says. They’re the last generation of Jews who have firsthand relationships with the dwindling population of survivors. “People really opened up to me and told me their stories,” Nazarian says. “The more they opened up, the more similarities our stories had.”

Nazarian, a copywriter, has two children, Daniel, 19, and Maya, 17. She says that she wants her kids to know what happened during the Holocaust without it dominating their lives. “I made a conscious decision not to talk about it all the time like it was with me,” she says. “It wasn’t something I wanted to become ingrained in them.” Rather, she knew the book would be a gift to remind her kids (and possibly her grandchildren, someday) of where they came from. And, Nazarian says, she believes that her mother and grandmother would have been proud of the story she has told. O

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