In Jewish belief, there are righteous people in every generation who can repair a tear in the universe. Irena Sendler was truly one of them.
Born into a comfortable Polish Catholic family, Irena had many Jewish friends growing up, and they shared idealistic beliefs. When the Germans invaded Poland and set off World War II, she was determined to assist the Jewish population in any way possible, especially those in the walled-off Warsaw ghetto. Carrying necessary papers she was able to enter and leave the ghetto. She and like-minded Poles rescued as many as 2,500 Jewish children, carefully recording names and keeping them in a jar (never found). She kept up her mission even as conditions within the walls became worse, as starvation, disease, the “murderous brutality” of the German occupying forces, and deportations to extermination camps grew in intensity. Even arrest, torture, and a miraculous release from certain death did not stop her. Farrell’s adaptation of Mazzeo’s adult title (2016) clearly presents her life and the ever present reality of death in a sobering, heartbreaking narrative.
Readers will understand how Sendler came to be honored by Israel’s Yad Vashem Holocaust memorial as one of the Righteous Among the Nations. (black-and-white photographs, adapter’s note, endnotes not seen) (Biography. 12-18)