.....a teaching guide for HAVING OUR SAY? There are many different versions available on the Internet. One of the best is posted on the website of La Guardia Community College in New York City. There is a link on this page - just scroll down to the end of the column at right.
.....my original New York Times article on the Delany Sisters (Sept. 22, 1991)? There is a glitch on the New York Times website which they are trying to fix. If you can't find it on the web, send an email directly to me. I'll get a copy to you asap. (There is a link directly to me on the Lectures page of this website.)
"Strong Medicine" was the Indian name given to Marion about 30 years ago. What personality traits might be required to live up to such a name? What does this name immediately make you speculate about her?
“Hey, you have to laugh at yourself and things that go on around you.” With this quote, what do you think Strong Medicine implies?
Does it seem surprising that women are, and have always been, the powerful figures in the Lenape tribe? Why or why not?
“Indians are thinking about the future while everybody else today is living for the moment.” Which way of life do you believe is more sensible?
Do you agree with Strong Medicine’s reasoning for belief in ghosts or do you think ghosts are fictional?
Explain why Strong Medicine decides to stop judging people “by the color of their skin or anything else” and if you too have experienced a similar situation.
“I’m not going to judge people, Indian or black, who passed for white, because their lives were so much more pleasant as white people. I can’t say I admire it but I don’t think you can put people down for it.” How would you feel about this? Do you think this is still somewhat true today?
How does Strong Medicine’s grandmother’s, “Mamie” (Marie), advice tie in to the Lenape way of life?
Can you relate to Strong Medicine’s description of her life at home while growing up? How?
“...something people don’t understand about Indians. We’re not relics in a museum. We are living in the same world as you are.” What image do you, personally, have when Indians are mentioned? Is it different after reading this quote?
Strong Medicine expresses that although it was hard growing up, it was a good life. Is it hard to imagine being upbeat about the situation she construes, or do you understand where she’s coming from?
How would you react if someone treated you the way Strong Medicine was treated and told you you weren’t good enough to speak to them?
Chapter 5 ends with a question, “Aren’t we all supposed to be equal?” Give two examples of situations, currently, where we are not all treated equally and explain how you think that could improve.
What does Strong Medicine mean when she says she could lose herself in books? If not books, what do you rely on to “lose yourself?”
“When you’re a kid, you think that what you see around you is normal. You don’t necessarily question it.” What does this say about children and the importance of the examples set for them?
Does Strong Medicine’s story about Wilbur sound like “love at first sight” to you?
Strong Medicine’s values are made clear -- love, health and happiness. Do you agree that these things are more important than a big house and English china? What makes your life worthwhile?
“When you’re young, you get upset about the dumbest things.” Why do you think this is?
How would you feel if your husband was drafted into the war and you were left at home with two young children, like Strong Medicine was?
Why did Strong Medicine keep the telegram that informed her that her husband was alive?
“You laugh ‘til you cry, that’s all I can say.” What does this quote mean to you?
If you were Wilbur, would you want to talk about the war upon returning, or keep quiet about it?
Imagine growing up in constant fear of the Klan because you were “different.” How easy do you think it would be to be open-minded and accepting of white people as an adult after experiencing that?
How does the treatment of people of color qualify as terrorism?
Do you know a lot of people who would do what Strong Medicine did for that mother in tears?
“Always stand up to a bully -- that’s my philosophy.” How does this compare to your philosophy? Do you agree or disagree with Strong Medicine?
Strong Medicine’s boys were raised surrounded by many of their family members all on one stretch of road. How do you think this effects their family’s sense of togetherness?
Can you relate to the stories Strong Medicine tells of her children and her perspective as a parent?
“I sometimes wonder where white people got the idea they’re above everyone else.” Where do you believe this idea came from?
What do you think Strong Medicine means when she calls the Lenape “a hidden people?”
“I think it took me at least two years to get over it, to the extent you ever get over it.” What does Strong Medicine mean by this?
What do you think Boyer’s reason was to start studying accounting although he knew how ill he was?
“They’d come up to me and say, ‘Mrs. Gould, can I talk to you?’ and I’d say, ‘What’s wrong? What kind of problem have you got today?’ They just needed someone to listen to them. And I loved being there for them.” What does this say about Strong Medicine as a person? Do you have a person, or people, in your life that you can go to like this?
Do you feel like you change a lot to adapt to the world constantly moving around you, but deep down try to stick to your roots?
“I believe a woman can be feminine and still be strong. I don’t think the two things contradict each other.” Do you agree with Strong Medicine? How so?
What does this chapter’s stories and messages reveal about Strong Medicine’s character?
Why do you think Strong Medicine made such a good boss for the construction workers?
“Because I grew up as a Lenape woman, I really didn’t think there was any job I couldn’t do.” What does Strong Medicine mean by this?
What Hollywood image does Strong Medicine refer to? Describe.
“The first hurdle is refusing to accept how someone else defines you. When you’ve heard you’re nothing for a long, long time, and you don’t deserve to have rights then after a while you start to believe it. And it becomes part of who you are.” Can you relate to this from your own personal experience?
How do you think Strong Medicine is worried she will feel if she visits a Lenape reservation?
“I don’t think you can be Indian and feel all warm and fuzzy about the federal government, unless you have amnesia.” Do you think this is a fair thing for Strong Medicine to say? Why, or why not?
“We have come full circle in my lifetime.” What does Strong Medicine mean by “full circle?”
What does the 28 acres the Lenape purchased symbolize for the tribe?
What Indian name do you think might be given to you? Why?
After having read to this point, do you agree that Strong Medicine is an appropriate name for Marion?
“But this is life! It’s part of living. You can’t control things. You have to accept what happens.” Have you ever had trouble accepting something occurring in your life? How did you cope with it?
“It’s too bad that people can’t be people without looking at skin color, or where you live, how you talk, things like that.” What does Strong Medicine mean?
After all the negative things Strong Medicine mentions throughout this chapter, is it surprising she ends by saying “Sometimes all you can do is laugh”? Why or why not?
If brand-new cars and great big houses aren’t what is important for the future and future generations, what do you think Strong Medicine thinks is important?
“Why should I change?” Can you think of any reasons why Strong Medicine should change, or do you agree with her that it is her choice?
Did you have any idea that these plants and weeds served all these wonderful purposes? Are you aware of any other natural remedies?
“When you’ve known somebody that long, you don’t have to talk.” What does Strong Medicine suggest? Do you feel this way with any of your family or friends?
Why do you think it was so important to Strong Medicine for Wilbur to die at home?
“I’m an optimistic person, and I think if you keep trying, there is always a way to dig out of whatever problem you have.” Do you consider yourself optimistic or pessimistic, and do you agree with Strong Medicine’s statement about life?
Strong Medicine says she wouldn’t change her life for anything in this world. How easy do you think it is to be truly satisfied with every part of your life and retain a positive outlook until the very end? How do you hope to achieve this in your lifetime?
This book is a first-hand account of a Polish-Jewish couple who escaped the Holocaust by masquerading as Christians, their adjustment to life in the United States after the war, and the impact of the Holocaust on their daughter, grandchildren, nephew, and other members of their extended family.
INTRODUCTION: "The Journey Begins"
This section recounts how the author was introduced to Norman and Amalie Salsitz
1. What information is revealed about the author, Amalie, and Norman?
2. What is meant by "a journey of understanding?”
CHAPTER 1: "A Beautiful Childhood"
This chapter details the life of Amalie as a child in Poland.
1. In what ways did Amalie have a beautiful childhood?
2. What do you learn about the personalities of Norman and Amalie from the way they interact?
CHAPTER 2: "Of Mind and Memory"
This chapter provides a glimpse of Norman, past and present.
1. In what ways is Norman still fighting a war?
2. What is revealed about Norman's past in this chapter?
CHAPTER 3: "A Fateful Decision"
This chapter tells what happened to Amalie's sister, Celia.
1. Why is the telling of this account difficult for both the interviewer and interviewee? How did you feel when reading it?
2. What motivated Celia to do what she did? What were her options? What would you have done in her place?
CHAPTER 4: "The Storyteller"
This chapter shows Norman talking to schoolchildren about the Holocaust.
1. What kind of childhood did Norman recall having? What impressed you about the stories of his childhood?
2. What motivates Norman to give speeches? How does he benefit from sharing his story? What impact do you think his stories have on his audiences?
CHAPTER 5: "A Premonition"
This chapter recalls the murder of Amalie's mother and also includes a trip by the author to the Holocaust Museum.
1. What incident stands out for you in this chapter? Describe your feelings after reading about what happened.
2. What did Amy Hill Hearth experience at the Holocaust Museum? How do you think she was changed by her visit there?
CHAPTER 6: "A Long History"
This chapter recounts acts of anti-Semitism and describes relations between Christians and Jews in Poland.
1. From Norman's perspective, what facts about Jews and the Jewish faith are important for people to understand? Did you learn anything new about these topics from reading the chapter? Explain.
2. Compare anti-Semitism during Norman's youth with anti-Semitism today. In your opinion, what are some reasons it has continued?
CHAPTER 7: "Embracing the Past"
This chapter details how the Germans began their assault against Jews and how Amalie and her family were affected.
1. Discuss the losses that Amalie had to cope with and how she dealt with them.
2. What was it like to be Jewish in Poland during this time? In what ways was that experience similar to and different from being a member of a minority group in America today?
CHAPTER 8: "A Cousin's Story"
This chapter offers insights from Leo Petranker, a first cousin of Amalie.
1. What experiences did Leo Petranker and Amalie have in common?
2. What, in Leo's opinion, caused the Holocaust, and why does he believe it couldn't happen in the U.S.? Do
CHAPTER 9: "An Unspeakable Event"
This chapter describes incidents surrounding the murder of Norman's father.
1. Discuss the changes in daily life that Jews were forced to make. Which of these changes do you think were the most difficult?
2. What is your reaction to the way Norman handled his father's death? How would you have responded? How might you have been changed by the experience?
CHAPTER 10: "A Guardian Angel"
This chapter introduces Mundek, whom Amalie describes as her guardian angel.
1. What did Mundek do to warrant having Amalie call him her guardian angel? What do you think motivated him to help her and others despite all the risks? Is it risky to act as a guardian angel today?
2. Describe how Amalie chose her new name and adjusted to her new identity. What aspects of the decision were difficult for her? What would be most difficult for you under similar circumstances?
CHAPTER 11: "A Last Letter from Mother"
This chapter details the struggles of Norman and his brother as they fled the Germans.
1. What details often meant the difference between life and death to Jewish people during this time period? What was the cost of being a survivor?
2. Review the people in this chapter who were murdered and the reasons why they died. How does it make you feel to read about them?
CHAPTER 12: "The Masquerade"
This chapter tells of Amalie's double life when she masqueraded as a Christian.
1. What factors worked in Amalie's favor as she struggled to survive? Do you agree with her comment that luck was important? What part did her looks and beauty play?
2. What were some elements of Amalie's masquerade? What were the most difficult moments for her? How do you think you would respond if you were forced to pretend practicing a different religion?
CHAPTER 13: "Living 'Hour-by-Hour'"
This chapter focuses on some harrowing encounters experienced by Norman and his brother.
1. What feelings did Norman express about his uncertain future, living hour-hy-hour? How do you feel in uncertain times?
2. What shocked you about this chapter, and why? What makes these events seem so shocking?
INTRODUCTION, PART II: "A Warning to the World"
This section addresses the causes of the Holocaust.
1. Why is it important to tell the story of the Holocaust, and how is it currently being told?
2. What lessons and warnings does the Holocaust offer?
CHAPTER 14: "The Next Generation"
This chapter introduces Esther Dezube, Norman and Amalie's daughter.
1. How did the Holocaust influence Esther's life and the lives of others of her generation?
2. What parallels are there between the Jews of the Holocaust and people with AIDS in modern society?
CHAPTER 15: "A Time for Reflection"
This chapter looks at Norman and Amalie's struggles to adjust after the war.
1. How was Esther's life different from Amalie's?
2. What difficulties faced Norman and Amalie after the war? How do you think you would have responded under similar circumstances?
CHAPTER 16: "A Rocky Start in America"
This chapter describes some of Norman and Amalie's first experiences in the United Slates.
1. What impressed you about Norman’s good and bad memories of his early years in the United Stales?
2. Do you think it is harder or easier to be an immigrant today?
CHAPTER 17: "A Canadian Cousin's Perspective"
This chapter introduces Marilyn Petranker Sober.
1. What new insights about Amalie and Norman did you gain from this chapter?
2. How was Marilyn's life different from Amalie's, and why?
CHAPTER 18: "A Painful Choice"
This chapter describes Norman's decision about fighting in Palestine.
1. How did you feel when reading about the painful choice that Norman made?
2. How was life in America different for Norman than it was for Amalie?
CHAPTER 19: "Hope for a Brighter Future"
This chapter looks back as Norman and Amalie's lives as they settled in America.
1. Amalie notes that being a survivor is a very complex experience. Discuss some of the many adjustments she had to make.
2. How did being a teacher help Amalie? Why was she especially suited for it?
CHAPTER 20: "The View from Israel"
This chapter introduces Pepka, Amalie's sister in Israel.
1. In what ways are Amalie and Pepka similar? How are they different?
2. How do Israelies view the Holocaust? How has it impacted life in Israel today?
CHAPTER 21: "A Miracle Baby"
This chapter recalls Norman and Amalie's struggles to have a child.
1. What were the pros and cons of Amalie and Norman having a child?
2. Why was Esther a "miracle baby"? In what ways did her birth, paradoxically, cause sadness?
CHAPTER 22: "The Suburban Life"
This chapter provides more details about Norman and Amalie's adaptation to life in America.
1. What roles did luck and hard work play in Norman and Amalie's new life?
2. How was Esther's childhood different from the experiences of other children her age?
CHAPTER 23: "A Nephew Shoulders the Past"
This chapter introduces Dr. Edwin Salsitz, Leibush's son.
1. In what ways did Leibush depend on Norman for survival?
2. How was Edwin affected by the Holocaust?
CHAPTER 24: "Life and Death"
This chapter recalls Norman and Leibush's lives as wanted fugitives during the war.
1. Do you agree with the life-and-death decisions made by Norman? Explain your rationale.
2. In what ways was deception a key to Norman's survival and helping others survive? When was deception necessary?
CHAPTER 25: "In the Lions' Den"
This chapter tells of Amalie's work for a German construction company,
1. What impressed you about Amalie's decisions and instincts for survival in this chapter?
2. Explain why "In the Lions' Den" is a good title for this chapter.
CHAPTER 26: "An Impossible Task"
This chapter gives Esther's perspective on being a child of a survivor.
1. Esther says it was not an accident that Norman and Amalie survived. Explain her reasoning. Do you agree?
2. Discuss the pressures that children of Holocaust survivors are under.
CHAPTER 27: "Get the Plans and Kill the Girl"
This chapter recalls the first meeting of Norman and Amalie.
1. Discuss the objectives of Amalie and Norman during their first meeting, before their identities became known to each other. What talents were they using to survive?
2. If you were in a foreign land using a false identity, how would you prove you were an American? How would you prove you were a Christian?
CHAPTER 28: "Heartaches and Regrets"
This chapter looks back at Norman and Amalie's past and what might have been.
1. Discuss the losses and missed opportunities that Norman, Amalie, and other survivors have endured. Do you think that time heals these wounds? Explain.
2. How have Norman and Amalie dealt with their regrets and guilt? How has their experience changed their views about God?
CHAPTER 29: "A Poignant Trip"
This chapter recalls Amalie ami Esther's 1974 trip back to Poland.
1. What did Amalie learn during her return trip to Poland? Why did Norman refuse to go? If you were Norman, would you go back? Explain.
2. How did Esther benefit from the trip to Poland? How was Amalie able to help her?
CHAPTER 30: "The Third Generation: 'American Kids'"
This chapter gives Esther's perspective of the past and present.
1. Discuss what Esther says has been her greatest challenge in life—to accept her parents and their past. Why has it been such a struggle for her?
2. How do you think Esther's relationship with her parents has changed over the years? What has triggered the changes?
CHAPTER 31: "A Love of Life"
This chapter offers some final reflections by Norman and Amalie.
1. After all that has happened, what causes Norman and Amalie to love life?
2. What did Amy Hill Hearth learn from her talks with Norman and Amalie? What did you gain from reading this book?