Personal experiences of growing up

...Itzkowitz told The AJN, explaining that a lot of her inspiration for writing came from Anne Frank, and Itzkowitz's grandfather, who was a creative writing professor.

Miriam Itzkowitz with her book.
Photo: Instagram
Miriam Itzkowitz with her book.Photo: Instagram

For Miriam Itzkowitz, Judaism has always been front and centre. She attended Emanuel, was very involved with Betar, and is now involved with the Australasian Union of Jewish Students (AUJS) and YouthHear. So it’s no surprise that her book, I went, I was Lost, I was Found, I Experienced, is steeped with Jewish themes.

The book is a collection of writings by the young author, collated throughout the years.

“I’ve loved writing my whole life. I also really loved reading as a child,” Itzkowitz told The AJN, explaining that a lot of her inspiration for writing came from Anne Frank, and Itzkowitz’s grandfather, who was a creative writing professor.

For Itzkowitz, the book focuses on several different themes, noticeably the insights of a teenage girl. It was written throughout her teenage years as she was trying to find her place in the world.

“It’s the insights of a teenage girl, going through a number of different things, like being Jewish, and a lot of pain, [hearing witness accounts of] the concentration camps [and] what their lives were like, having a crush on a person, general insecurity,” she said, continuing to explain that it also touches on mental health. “It also has to do with different personal issues and experiences as well, reflecting on bigger issues from outside of oneself.”

According to the young author, the book also covers how a young person now may comprehend the atrocities of the Holocaust and how to navigate your Jewish identity within the context of both the Holocaust and Israel.

“My book is unique because it also offers a new perspective on what it’s like for grandchildren of Holocaust survivors to navigate their Jewish identity and reconcile with the atrocities,” Izkowitz explained on a recent YouthHear social media post. “I also think it offers a view on Zionism which isn’t based on political nationalism, and one that rather comes out of love for the country’s history and culture.”

Itzkowitz has always wanted to publish a book. She said now was the time when everything fell into place. Being on the other side of her teenage years, yet still close enough to relate to teenagers, also made publishing the book at this time quite relevant. As she writes in the preface, “As I emerge from adolescence and transition into difficult-to-navigate adulthood, I hope to use this book as a reminder and indicator of my growth and progress from teenager to young woman. I hope this book serves as an inspiration to young people everywhere, especially young Jews, young girls, and young people struggling with their mental health, acknowledging their struggles, and letting them know that their experiences are valid and important, and deserve to be heard and told.”

While Izkowitz wasn’t necessarily thinking about who her target audience would be, simply writing words from the heart as she grew through her teenage years, she said it’s the kind of book that young teenagers would benefit from reading, as well as their parents.

“It’s very much a personal thing; it wasn’t targeted at any particular person other than myself,” she said, acknowledging that young people will need a level of maturity to deal with certain issues that arise in it. “It’s reflective of a lot of different people because it has so many different themes in it.”

I went, I was Lost, I was Found, I Experienced is available on Amazon Australia.

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