Acclaim for Book and Speaking Events

"We were rewarded with a talk that was informative and beautifully articulated, discussing some events of the World War II era that we previously knew little about. The heart of her discussion, however, was focused on the Nazi invasion and occupation of Norway, the overt threats to the 2000 Jews there, the foresight and ability of some Norwegian Jews to escape to neutral Sweden, including four year-old Irene, her mother, father and brother, in 1942. Other Norwegian Jews, less prescient, less able, less fortunate - perished in Auschwitz.

She concentrated her spoken effort on conveying a message of what the Holocaust memory meant to a young child whose immediate family survived, experienced the joy of returning to their Norwegian home at the conclusion of the war, and who has since spent an enjoyable and productive adult life in America. The Old Guard audience sat in rapt attention to the story - well-researched and well-told - and rewarded the speaker with resounding applause.

This review would be incomplete without commenting on Irene Berman’s book. For anyone who feels passionate about justice, eliminating prejudice, and preserving the enduring human spirit, it is a must read." Read more about the event here>>

H. David Crombie, M.D.


"This “untold story” about what happened to Norwegian Jews during the Holocaust deserves to be told – and now it is.”

Elie Wiesel, Nobel Laureate


“I thought you delivered an outstanding presentation, nicely paced, factual but poignant and very well received by the audience.”

H. Michael Soroy
Honorary Consul of Norway – Los Angeles


“We Are Going to Pick Potatoes is a moving and courageous account of the Holocaust, its antecedents, and its legacy, and it illuminates a neglected side of European history.”

Mark Brazaitis, author of
“The River of Lost Voices: Stories from Guatemala,"
winner of the Iowa Short Fiction Award,
and “An American Affair: Stories,"
winner of the George Garrett Fiction Prize


Based on extensive research into her own family's history and that of the Jewish community, she writes about Jewish life in Norway, before and after the war. She tells of those who returned to Norway to rebuild their lives and surrounded their wartime experiences with silence.”

Sandee Brawarsky, The Jewish Week (New York)


Your talk was very well planned, and the slides that illustrated your remarks were interesting and engaging. The audience gained a perspective on the Holocaust not usually known, and with you as the lecturer they also had a personal link to the subject.
I really liked how you reacted to students who offered comments instead of questions, or who weren't quite sure what they wanted to know from you -- you managed to respond to them in a respectful and informative way.”

Professor Jody Myers
Coordinator, Jewish Studies Interdisciplinary Program
Department of Religious Studies, California State University, Northridge


“A child of four when she was told “We are going to pick potatoes,” she and her family embarked on a tortuously dangerous journey through the dense woods of Norway to reach neutral Sweden, just missing the Gestapo roundup of November 26th for the purpose of mass arrests.”

Marcia Weiss Posner
Member of the Jewish Book Council's Board of Directors


“This is a story that should be disseminated much more broadly in Norway, and most particularly in the schools.  You are accomplishing a great deal by making sure that this story is not lost to history.”

Eleanor White, wife of the
American Ambassador to Norway, Barry White


“The story of indifference and courage, of despair and hope, of silence and action. A very Jewish and very human story which should be told and listened to.”

Michael Melchior, Chief Rabbi of Norway,
Former Cabinet Minister of Israel


“This comprehensive, moving and heart-rending book, with a welcome underlying optimism in spite of traumatic experiences, deserves a wide circle of readers in the U.S.A, far beyond those of Norwegian descent.”

Arnfinn Moland, Director
Norway's Resistance Museum


“What a tremendous blessing to read this extraordinary book. Contemplating such a stomach-turning subject matter alongside the endearing intimate family details is not easy, but the opportunity to learn a little about this remarkable family is a blessing to cherish. It is unimaginable to me the incredible courage, commitment, wisdom, and fortitude Ms. Berman had to muster to start and complete this work, and to render its content so thoughtfully and effectively.”

Nik Sten, Norwegian Club of San Francisco


“Through your eloquent and heartfelt narrative, you have helped us to increase our own awareness, understanding, empathy, and compassion.  Thanks to you, the untold story of Norway and the Holocaust is now at last being heard ... and will be remembered always by those who come to your presentations and read your book.”

Nancy Jordan
Middlesex Institute for Lifelong Education (MILE) Advisory Board Member


“Your beautifully told story is an invaluable contribution to the relatively unknown destiny of Norwegian Jews and we are truly grateful [to you] for making it available to us.”

Liv Tchividjian Grimsby
Thanks to Scandinavia


“You are a true scholar and an eloquent spokesperson for your cause.  Everyone in attendance learned about the plight of Norwegian Jewry and the impact of the Holocaust on Scandinavian Jewish communities.”

Rabbi Yitzchok Adler
Beth David Synagogue, West Hartford, Connecticut


“It [your book] had a thought proving effect on me to listen to your description of what it was like to be a Jew in Norway, and to get insight into how a Jewish family who was robbed of a number of family remembers during the war, had to live with the Holocaust syndrome.”

Torleiv Austad
Professor Emeritus of Systematic Theology at
MF Norwegian School of Theology, Oslo


“Irene Levin Berman has written a powerful, deeply moving book about a people, a place, and a time unfamiliar to many Americans. It is a story that should be widely known and remembered by all.”

Edward P. Gallagher, President
The American-Scandinavian Foundation


“Levin's narrative is poignant...Yet her story rings true when she describes how groups of Jews were smuggled out of the country.  Her own escape was euphemistically referred to as "picking potatoes," whence comes her book's title.”

Benjamin Ivry, "The Arty Semite." The Jewish Daily Forward


"As a member of the Advisory Board of The Schiller Shoreline Institute for Lifelong Learning, I want to thank you for your wonderful presentation of We Are Going to Pick Potatoes, Norway and the Holocaust, The Untold Story on March 21, 2013. You are a wonderful story teller and our group thoroughly enjoyed listening to you tell about what happened to Norwegian Jews during World War II and your experiences of growing up during and after the war. You have a lovely manner and were able to earn the admiration of our group right away. After the presentation, which was very moving, the audience showed their involvement by asking you many questions about your experiences. You answered them with great interest. From a historical standpoint, yours is a story that needs to be told. Most people are not aware that Nazis went through such great lengths to try to destroy a Jewish population of only 2000 people. But they would, and this further shows how threatening the situation really was. I am now reading your fascinating book, which I thank you for. Having heard you speak in person and meeting you makes your story even more poignant."

Bob Trupin, The Schiller Shoreline Institute for Lifelong Learning




Past Events

  • Oct 27 2013

    The Jewish Federation of Greater New Bedford, Rhode Island

  • Nov 10 2013

    Vennligfolk Lodge, Sons of Norway, Plover Municipal Building, Plover, Wisconsin

  • Nov 11 2013

    University of Wisconsin Stevens Point (UWSP) LIFE (Learning is Forever) Program, Stevens Point, Wisconsin

  • Nov 12 2013

    Senior Fellowship of the Woodlands Church, Plover, Wisconsin

  • Nov 19 2013

    The Old Guard, Inc. – a large group of retired professionals interested in traditional values and furthering social good in the community, West Hartford, CT

More Events