Restoring One's Faith

St Kilda Shule the scene for resilience and wisdom

"It’s a book about serendipity and fate; about faith and love," says Rachelle Unreich.

A Brilliant Life written by Rachelle Unreich.
A Brilliant Life written by Rachelle Unreich.

Harper’s Bazaar magazine’s review of freelance journalist Rachelle Unreich’s recent book.

A Brilliant Life, about her mother Mira, was succinct but apt, “Unreich has cleverly painted her mother’s story in all its shade of glory and despair; a woman who stepped into the canvas of life and painted her own bright fulfilling future.”

At first, Unreich was not sure how to promote her book. She worried that the subject was too sad in such a grim time. But she realised that her mother Mira had important lessons to share. “It’s a book about serendipity and fate; about faith and love. It’s about grieving a parent and overcoming that loss, and it’s about looking towards a bright future when you’ve endured a terrible past,” Unreich said.

She realised that, despite everything, her mother never stopped believing in humanity. Mira told her she learned about the goodness of people during the Holocaust because there were so many who had tried to help or save her in the war and afterwards. “I want to bring some of that to the St Kilda Shule event. It is about how to keep one’s faith in a dark time that feels bleak.

Mira and Rachelle in 2000. Photograph Andrew Lehmann

“Ever since I launched my book I wanted to do an event at St Kilda Shule, which is not only where I’ve been a board member but is also where a small segment of the book is set. Synagogues have played a big part in my life, and I realised while I was writing A Brilliant Life why I feel so drawn to them. All four grandparents of mine were killed in the Holocaust, as well as aunts and uncles. It’s where I feel connected to those ancestors, knowing that when I say a prayer in shule, it is like the way they prayed back in Czechoslovakia.”

Rabbi Yaakov Glasman said “St Kilda Shule is delighted to host board member and acclaimed author Rachelle Unreich to explore the theme of restoring our humanity after our darkest moments. I’m hoping the evening will empower participants with genuine, first-hand insights about resilience and maintaining faith and hope, even when our chips are down, especially from a Jewish perspective.”

Unreich wrote in her book about the family singing Avinu Malkeinu to Mira in her last few days, and how the final lyrics of Adon Olam, “God is with me, I shall not fear” made their way onto her gravestone.

“When chazan Brett Kaye sings those songs, you feel the emotion behind them; the impact of his voice, and those incredibly spiritual songs is visceral. I wanted to bring the book to life in this way, in a setting that will be familiar to the readers when they see it,” she added.

“The music responds to the magic that I feel was always around Mira. Her spirit, her sense of joy, also how she lived her life with purpose, strength, resilience, kindness and empathy. I love it when readers write to me and tell me how meaningful it was to read about Judaism and so much of its beauty. That makes me feel like I’ve done something good in a wider sense.”

“A Brilliant Life: How to Restore One’s Faith in Humanity” is at

St Kilda Shule on Thursday, February 22 at 7pm. Music by Brett Kaye and the St Kilda Synagogue choir. $10 tickets at:

Light refreshments will be served, books will be on sale.

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