For as long as I can remember I’ve dreamed of being an author, the same way some little kids dream of being ballerinas or Major Leaguers. Well, I don’t pirouette, and I sure can’t hit a ball, but from time to time I do come up with a pretty good metaphor.
My life has two parts: the first in Canada, where I grew up, and the second in the United States, where I’ve lived for twenty years. In Toronto, I attended the Royal Conservatory of Music as part of my parents’ plan to make me a concert pianist. (That didn’t work out.) I graduated from the University of Toronto with a degree in psychology. (Didn’t pursue that either.) I landed instead in public relations, which gave me a chance to write creatively every day, as well as liaise with press, foreign diplomats, corporate investors and the public.
Since relocating to the States, I’ve been published in local, regional and national media – newspapers, magazines, websites, and even a poetry journal. A feature I wrote on survivors of the M.S. St. Louis, a German ocean liner carrying scores of Jewish refugees fleeing Nazi-occupied Europe, earned an Award of Excellence from the Society of Professional Journalists. For my leadership role in several community-wide charitable projects I received the prestigious A. O. Samuels Young Leadership Award… sort of like the Oscar for volunteering in my neck of the woods.
Did I mention my neck of the woods is Connecticut? So literally, woods. My husband, a businessman, and I have three children, a daughter who lives in New York City, a son graduating this spring from college, and a sophomore in high school. All three are smart and strong and gorgeous and yes, I’m doing the braggy mom thing, but this is my page, so I can.
Our unofficial fourth child is an Aussiedoodle named Moose… he’s the cutest part of the family.
When did my love of story-telling begin? I’m pretty sure it started one summer night years ago, as I sat by a camp bonfire and listened to a counselor tell a ghost story, The Monkey’s Paw, which made my heart pound and my imagination run wild. The memory still makes me shiver.
Now, I’m thrilled to share my first book with the world. THE CRATE: A Story of War, a Murder and Justice is the true story of a gruesome crime that involved my family: back in 2010, we discovered a wooden crate hidden in the dark, dank underbelly of our cottage in Muskoka, Canada, a stunning region of majestic forests and glittering lakes. The crate contained a horror for which we weren’t prepared.
The discovery left us reeling, of course. But more than anything, it traumatized my parents; for them, our cottage was a safe haven, a refuge from violence. You see, my parents survived the Holocaust, and this murder, this singular act of evil, dredged up their memories of concentration camps, of death marches, of starving in ghettos.
As a child of survivors, I’ve recounted their miraculous journeys, along with my grandfather’s – a stunning twist of fate set him apart from the Six Million – in numerous print articles, lectures, and keynote addresses to the American Red Cross.
How could I not write all this down? All these stories need to be preserved.
I think the themes of the book resonate today more than ever: of refugees and the need for sanctuary. Of leaving behind loved ones and struggling to make a fresh start. Of racial hatred and domestic violence. Most of all, THE CRATE examines our seemingly limitless capacity for evil… but also, our capacity for good.
I’d love to hear from you. Feel free to email me! Or better yet, come visit me in Muskoka. You can find me there every summer, watching the sun set from my rowboat.
Dorothy Collins says
I would love nothing more than to meet and visit with you and your family. We’ve been brought together because of horrific evil person. their’s a reason the universe has made this happened to bring our families together. I haven’t figured it out yet. God Bless You and your Family. Congratulations on release of true stories that need to be told.
rochelle markowitz says
I loved your book, Deborah, your father’s survival in the Holocaust, is truly proof that Hitler was not successful, yes he slaughtered us but not all we remain, steadfast, strong, perservering, as a Jew and someone who is named, after my paternal great grandmother in Hungary (she and my paternal great grandfather, Nathan; perished at Bergen Belson.) I did not want the book to end you are a wonderful writer, so clear, focused and real, I felt as if I was with you in Canada and with your father when he suffered in the concentration camps. I am so happy I saw this book on Amazon. Thank you again, Deborah, for writing a book I will treasure always..
rochelle markowitz says
I loved your book, you are a magnificent writer.
V B says
I came across our website researching the fate of Pista Vadas, the boy mentioned throughout Eva Heyman’s diary (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eva_Heyman) . May I ask if this is him in the picture?
Deborah Vadas Levison says
Hi there! Thank you for reading my book. In following your link I only see a picture of the girl, Eva, mentioned above. I don’t believe my family has any relation to hers, though….
v b says
Thanks for your prompt reply. Not sure why the link is not working – should lead you to the wikipedia page about Eva. Anyway, here is also a good description of her diary, mentioning Pista Vadas: https://www.yadvashem.org/education/educational-materials/books/dear-diary.html
Best wishes from Vienna, Austria!
PS: Sorry, I haven’t read your book yet I just found your page though my research on Google for Pista Vadas.
Yes, I was wondering about the same thing. Is he the same Pista Vadas in Eva’s diary? I’m so pleased that he survived.