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Judy Batalion to Share the Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters
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Judy Batalion's non-fiction book was inspired by a book titled "Women in the Ghettos" that she translated while living in England. At the center is a woman whose commitment to the resistance began when she was 15. PHOTO: Courtesy: Judy Batalion and The Alturas Institute
   
Friday, August 27, 2021
 

BY TAYLOR NADAULD

 Judy Batalion, who will speak at next week’s Conversations with Exceptional Women, has a word for her vibrant career timeline, one that has taken her from publishing essays in the New York Times to performing in comedy shows. 

 Born and raised in Montreal, Batalion studied the history of science at Harvard before moving to London to earn her PhD in art history. During that time, she dabbled in all sorts of work, including script-reading, acting, producing, curating, temping and comedy. 

Each job has had its importance, Batalion says. But of all the projects she’s completed, Batalion says her new book, The Light of Days: The Untold Story of Women Resistance Fighters in Hitler’s Ghettos, is likely the most significant. 

 An instant New York Times Bestseller, The Light of Days tells the powerful, and until now, untold story of hundreds of Jewish women living in Poland during World War II who risked everything to carry out their missions to destroy the ghettos and sabotage the Nazis. Brimming with tales of violence, seduction, and heroism, the book, published in April of this year, has already been optioned to Amblin Partners, Steven Spielberg’s production company, for a major motion picture. 

 Batalion, a granddaughter of Polish Holocaust survivors, had to ask herself as she was writing, not only what the story was, but what had happened to the stories that had been left untold for so many years. 

“It was inconceivable to me that such a dramatic and large-scale story was virtually unknown,” Batalion said. 

 Personal and political reasons were both likely culprits for the silencing of the women’s stories over the years, Batalion said. Some women were not believed; others were shamed for leaving to fight rather than staying behind to care for their parents. Others felt a sense of survivor’s guilt. 

 “Then, there was coping,” Batalion said. “Women kept their pasts to themselves out of a desperate desire to create a ‘normal’ life for their children, and for themselves. They did not all want to be ‘professional survivors.’ Like so many refugees, they wanted to conceal their pasts and start afresh, to blend into their new worlds, to be reborn. Their formidable tales were buried with their traumas, but both stayed close to the surface.” 

Batalion will speak about her new book, and more, at The Alturas Institute’s seventh annual “Conversations with Exceptional Women” event on Tuesday and Wednesday, Aug. 31 - Sept. 1.

This year’s event, dubbed “Women of Courage,” will feature Pulitzer Prize winners, a Nobel Peace Prize recipient, acclaimed authors, and lawyer Clara Spera, who will receive a posthumous award for her grandmother, the legendary Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

Tickets are $150 for general admission to the two-day conference and include coffee breaks and lunch. There are also $500 VIP tickets, which include a hosted reception with speakers, board members and invited guests on Aug. 31. The $1,000 VIP tickets include the reception and an intimate dinner with speakers, board members and others at a private home on Sept. 1.

 For tickets and other information, visit www.alturasinstitute.com.

 

 

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