Annette Gendler is the author of Jumping Over Shadows, the memoir of a German-Jewish love that overcame the burdens of the past. Her writing and photography have appeared in the Wall Street Journal, Tablet Magazine, Bella Grace and Artful Blogging, among others. She served as the 2014–2015 writer-in-residence at the Hemingway Birthplace Home in Oak Park, Ill., and has been teaching memoir writing at StoryStudio Chicago since 2006. She holds a Master of Fine Arts in Creative Writing from Queens University of Charlotte. After 15 years of working in consulting, she left the corporate world a few years ago and now does communications work for her children’s former school, in addition to pursuing her own creative projects. Born in New Jersey, she grew up in Munich, Germany, and lives in Chicago with her husband and three children.
History was repeating itself when Annette Gendler fell in love with Harry, a Jewish man, the son of Holocaust survivors, in Germany in 1985. Annette’s Great-Aunt Resi had been married to a Jew in Czechoslovakia before World War II―a marriage that, while happy, put the entire family in mortal danger once the Nazis took over their hometown in 1938. In the end, their marriage did not survive the Nazi times.
Annette and Harry’s love, meanwhile, was the ultimate nightmare for Harry’s family of Holocaust survivors. Not only was their son considering marrying a non-Jew, but a German. Weighed down by the burdens of their family histories, Annette and Harry kept their relationship secret for three years, until they could forge a path into the future and create a new life in Chicago. Annette found a spiritual home in Judaism―a choice that paved the way toward acceptance by Harry’s family, and redemption for some of the wounds of her own family’s past.