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Bitton-Jackson, Livia E(lvira)

BITTON-JACKSON, Livia E(lvira)

Also wrote as Livia Elvira Bitton. Nationality: American (originally Czechoslovakian: immigrated to the United States, 1951; granted U.S. citizenship, 1956). Born: Elli L. Friedman, Somorja, 28 February 1931. Education: Brooklyn College, City University of New York, B.A. 1961; New York University, M.A. 1963, Ph.D. in Hebrew culture and Jewish history 1968. Family: Married Leonard G. Jackson in 1977; one son and one daughter. Career: Associate professor, 1970-71, and dean of students, 1972-75, Academy of Jewish Religion. Since 1980 professor of Hebrew and Judaic studies, Herbert H. Lehman College, City University of New York. Lecturer in Hebrew literature, 1965-68, Hunter College, City University of New York; adjunct assistant professor of Hebrew language and literature, Brooklyn Center of Long Island University, 1965-68; assistant professor of Judaic studies, Brooklyn College, City University of New York, 1972-76; professor of Jewish history, Tel Aviv University, 1980-81. Awards: Long Island University outstanding teacher award, 1967; New York University Founder's Day award, for highest bracket of scholastic preferment, 1969; Christopher award, 1981, for Elli: Coming of Age in the Holocaust; United Jewish Appeal Eleanor Roosevelt humanitarian award and Jewish Teachers Union Jewish heritage award, both in 1982, for Elli: Coming of Age in the Holocaust.Agent: Gloria Stern, Gloria Stern Agency, 1230 Park Avenue, New York, New York 10028, U.S.A. Address: c/o Department of C.O.G.S., Herbert H. Lehman College, City University of New York, Bronx, New York 10468, U.S.A.

Publications

Memoirs

Elli: Coming of Age in the Holocaust. 1980.

I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust (for young adults). 1997.

My Bridges of Hope: Searching for Life and Love after Auschwitz (sequel to I Have Lived a Thousand Years; for young adults). 1999.

Other

A Decade of Zionism in Hungary, the Formative Years: The Post-World War I Period: 1918-1928 (as Livia Elvira Bitton). 1968.

The Jewess As a Fictional Sex Symbol. 1973.

Biblical Names of Literary Jewesses (originally a speech).1973.

Madonna or Courtesan: The Jewish Woman in Christian Literature. 1982.

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Critical Study:

"Women Writers and the Holocaust: Strategies for Survival" by Ellen S. Fine, in Reflections of theHolocaust in Art and Literature Social Science Monographs, 1990.

* * *

Livia E. Bitton-Jackson, who was born Elli L. Friedman, endured the Holocaust as a teenager. She was incarcerated with her mother in Auschwitz, Plaszow, Augsburg, and Mühldorf. Along with her mother and her brother, Bubi, she survived the horrors of the concentration camps. After liberation in 1945 she completed high school in a camp for displaced persons and then in 1951 immigrated to the United States. She received a Ph.D. degree in Hebrew culture and Jewish history from New York University and subsequently taught at a number of colleges, including City University of New York, where in 1968 she became professor of Hebraic and Judaic studies at Herbert H. Lehman College. In 1977 she moved to Israel, where she taught at Tel Aviv University. She has received numerous awards and honors, especially for her three volumes of memoirs.

Bitton-Jackson's memoir Elli: Coming of Age in the Holocaust was published in 1980 to critical acclaim, winning a number of prestigious awards. Her critical work Madonna or Courtesan: The Jewish Woman in Christian Literature was published in 1982. In 1997 she adapted Elli for a teenage audience as I Have Lived a Thousand Years: Growing Up in the Holocaust , which was chosen as Best Book for Young Adults by the American Library Association and which also won the 1998 Christopher Award.

My Bridges of Hope: Searching for Life and Love after Auschwitz, a sequel to I Have Lived a Thousand Years, recounts Bitton-Jackson's life after liberation in 1945 in postwar Europe. Oppressed by the anti-Semitism in Czechoslovakia, the girl and her family decided to immigrate to the United States. While they waited out the six years until they could leave, the courageous young woman rescued Jewish orphans from a Slovakian riot, helped Jews escape to Palestine, and became the head of a Jewish school. In the midst of this she dealt with post-traumatic stress as well as enduring the usual pangs of adolescence and coming to terms with her own identity. In 1951 she and her mother escaped from behind the Iron Curtain. An epilogue of several paragraphs telescopes her life after 1951. As Kirkus Reviews said of the sequel, "Interesting and inspiring, this story makes painfully clear how the fight to survive extended well beyond the war years; the discomforts and obstacles the author faced and articulates in such riveting detail will make readers squirm at the security and ease of their own lives."

—Maryann McLoughlin

See the essay on Elli: Coming of Age in the Holocaust.

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