Pre­oc­cu­pied With My Father

Simon Schnei­der­man
  • Review
By – December 12, 2011

This short, halt­ing tale reveals a mon­u­men­tal sto­ry. Inter­spers­ing text amid emo­tion­al­ly charged paint­ings and draw­ings, author and artist Simon Schnei­der­man pro­vides an insight­ful account of the life of his father, Yoel, and touch­ing­ly recalls fam­i­ly mem­bers mur­dered in the Holo­caust. While the author nev­er actu­al­ly gives a name to the Nazi-dri­ven atroc­i­ties vis­it­ed upon his rel­a­tives, his sur­re­al and haunt­ing illus­tra­tions imply a tor­rent of both tan­gi­ble and imag­ined hor­rors. Yoel’s fam­i­ly is robbed of life and lega­cy; he sur­vives the war and a DP camp and even­tu­al­ly immi­grates to Cana­da. While Yoel nev­er mourned, in the author’s words, in a rit­u­al­ized way,” por­tions of the text read like a prayer or oth­er-world­ly poem, reveal­ing the tran­sient state in which his father seemed to exist, unable to live com­plete­ly in the present and keep past ghosts in the past. 

Schnei­der­man con­veys in this small book the epic biog­ra­phy of a man whose life was filled with tragedy and redemption. 

Mol­ly Beth Dubin received an M.A. in art his­to­ry and muse­um stud­ies from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Den­ver. She is cul­tur­al arts direc­tor for the Har­ry & Rose Sam­son Fam­i­ly Jew­ish Com­mu­ni­ty Cen­ter of Milwaukee.

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