We all know that intimacy improves the quality of our lives. Yet most people don't realize how much it can increase the quality of our lives -- our survival.
In this New York Timesworld-renowned physician Dean Ornish, M.D., writes, "I am not aware of any other factor in medicine that has a greater impact on our survival than the healing power of love and intimacy. Not diet, not smoking, not exercise, not stress, not genetics, not drugs, not surgery."
He reveals that the real epidemic in modern culture is not only physical heart disease but also what he calls spiritual heart disease: loneliness, isolation, alienation, and depression. He shows how the very defenses that we think protect us from emotional pain are often the same ones that actually heighten our pain and threaten our survival. Dr. Ornish outlines eight pathways to intimacy and healing that have made a profound difference in his life and in the life of millions of others in turning sadness into happiness, suffering into joy.
Slomo Venezia was born into a poor Jewish-Italian communityliving in Thessaloniki, Greece. At first, the occupying Italiansprotected his family; but when the Germans invaded, the Veneziaswere deported to Auschwitz. His mother and sisters disappeared onarrival, and he learned, at first with disbelief, that they hadalmost certainly been gassed. Given the chance to earn a littleextra bread, he agreed to become a ‘Sonderkommando', withoutrealising what this entailed. He soon found himself a member of the‘special unit' responsible for removing the corpses from thegas chambers and burning their bodies.
Dispassionately, he details the grim round of daily tasks,evokes the terror inspired by the man in charge of the crematoria,‘Angel of Death' Otto Moll, and recounts the attempts made bysome of the prisoners to escape, including the revolt of October1944.
It is usual to imagine that none of those who went into the gaschambers at Auschwitz ever emerged to tell their tale - but, as amember of a ‘Sonderkommando', Shlomo Venezia was given thishorrific privilege. He knew that, having witnessed the unspeakable,he in turn would probably be eliminated by the SS in case he evertold his tale. He survived: this is his story.
Published in association with the United States Holocaust MemorialMuseum.