Archive for September, 2008

Review: The Invisible Wall

Title: The Invisible Wall

Author: Harry Bernstein

Summary: From Amazon.com

“There are places that I have never forgotten. A little cobbled street in a smoky mill town in the North of England has haunted me for the greater part of my life. It was inevitable that I should write about it and the people who lived on both sides of its ‘Invisible Wall.’ ”
The narrow street where Harry Bernstein grew up, in a small English mill town, was seemingly unremarkable. It was identical to countless other streets in countless other working-class neighborhoods of the early 1900s, except for the “invisible wall” that ran down its center, dividing Jewish families on one side from Christian families on the other. Only a few feet of cobblestones separated Jews from Gentiles, but socially, it they were miles apart.
On the eve of World War I, Harry’s family struggles to make ends meet. His father earns little money at the Jewish tailoring shop and brings home even less, preferring to spend his wages drinking and gambling. Harry’s mother, devoted to her children and fiercely resilient, survives on her dreams: new shoes that might secure Harry’s admission to a fancy school; that her daughter might marry the local rabbi; that the entire family might one day be whisked off to the paradise of America.
Then Harry’s older sister, Lily, does the unthinkable: She falls in love with Arthur, a Christian boy from across the street.
When Harry unwittingly discovers their secret affair, he must choose between the morals he’s been taught all his life, his loyalty to his selfless mother, and what he knows to be true in his own heart.
A wonderfully charming memoir written when the author was ninety-three, The Invisible Wall vibrantly brings to life an all-but-forgotten time and place. It is a moving tale of working-class life, and of the boundaries that can be overcome by love.

Positive Elements: This book is a beautifully written memoir of world many of us know nothing about. The story begins with the author recalling his childhood from age 4. The details and landscape of his everyday life are vivid and engrossing. On the surface it would appear that Harry Bernstein did not have a happy childhood. His father was emotionally and most of the time physically absent. He was often teased and harrassed walking to and from school because of his Jewish faith. Harry’s mother was perhaps the most memorable character in the book. What an amazing woman. She sacrificed her self in every way for her children. She truly is an inspiration to everyone. This memoir is a testament to the resiliency of children. It was also a real look into the divisive world of Jews and Christians. Bernstein realizes that whether Jew or Christian, underneath we are all have the same emotions and hope and dream of the same things. It took a tragedy then a celebration to bring the two cultures together.

Sexual Content: None

Violent Content:There are several situations of domestic violence in the story. However these situations are not too graphic. There are also several instances of children fighting.

Profanity: Some negative connotations and slurs referring to Jews and Christians

Drug Content: None

Conclusion: I loved reading this book. Bernstein faced so much adversity in his childhood. History has always informed of us of the tension and bitterness between Jews and Christians. I have never read a book that brought it to a reader from such a personal persepective. The lively characters from Bernstein’s childhood will make you laugh, want to cry and smile at the small victories. What a triumph for him to pen his first book at 93. I am looking forward to reading the sequel The Dream.

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A Prayer for Our Children

Dear Jesus,

Thank you for the blessing of our children.  The time of year has come for our children to go back to school.  Some of them are going to school for the first time.  Give them confidence as they start this new year.  Help us, as parents, to be joyful for them as they begin this new year.  Protect our kids as they go without us.  Give us peace and comfort that they are safe.  Watch over them as only You can. Give wisdom and guidance to their teachers. Give wisdom and guidance to the administration. We trust that our children will grow in both wisdom and in their relationship with you as this school year goes on.  Thank you for being our most caring and loving father.  Thank you for being there for us always.

Love,

The moms and dads of the most wonderful children

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The Needs of a Mother in Labor

I remember when I was at least 10 years old, my grandmother along with her pregnant dog was visiting us from North Carolina.  While we were away touring the city together, her dog gave birth to several cute, healthy puppies.  This is not surprising since most animals instinctively feel more comfortable in privacy as they labor and give birth.

The Bradley Methods® founder Dr. Robert Bradley questioned why animals give birth peacefully and joyfully unassisted, while human mothers seem to suffer tremendously through the labor and birth of their babies.  He found that if humans were trained and practiced what the animals do in labor they could be more successful at natural childbirth.  In addition, many veterinarians today prefer to “not interfere with nature” allowing the animals to give birth alone.

In the Hospitals today laboring mothers meet many challenges, including strangers, bright lights, often being hooked up to IV poles, different machines that may be beeping, being in an unfamiliar environment, being on a clear liquids only diet, and on top of all of these many women are constantly being interrupted.  In a hospital setting the mother’s concentration is disturbed possibly causing more pain and prolongation of labor.  This is why I choose a to have our first child at a Birth Center and our second at home.  Both of these environments were peaceful and relaxing which I believe helped me to have amazing natural births.

According to Husband Coached Childbirth there are 6 needs of the laboring mother.

1. The need for darkness and solitude.

2. The need for quiet.

3. The need for physical comfort during first-stage labor.

4. The need for physical relaxation – This is something that you learn how to do.  You need practice.  This is why I recommend that couples actually take the class.

5. The need for controlled breathing.  The Bradley Method® teaches natural abdominal breathing which will become deeper and more rapid as labor progresses.

6. The need for closed eyes and the appearance of sleep.  This will help the mother become totally concentrated on the task at hand.

If you chose not to have your baby at a Birth Center or at Home it is important that you write a birth plan which will help your birth team to know what type of birth experience that you hope for.

Animal vs. Human Birth, Beth Barbeau Excerpted from “Safer Birth in a Barn?” Midwifery Today, Issue 83 Husband Coached Childbirth, Robert A. Bradley, M.D., Fifth Edition

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