Judith Levy's Best-Selling Series Inspires Grandparents to Record Life Stories

Baby Book in Reverse Leaves Space for Oldies' Tales

Total Recall: Levy poses with a copy of ‘Grandmother Remembers.’
Jonathan Sessa
Total Recall: Levy poses with a copy of ‘Grandmother Remembers.’

By Renee Ghert-Zand

Published September 07, 2013, issue of September 13, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

Judith Levy met her husband, Herb Levy, more than four decades ago at the Concord Resort Hotel and Golf Club, in Kiamesha Lake, N.Y., which at the time was a famous Borscht Belt destination. A singer with a gig at the hotel, she was passing the time by writing letters in the lobby. Herb came over and asked her to write him one. “I’m lonely. Would you write me a letter?” he said.

“I fell for him right then and there,” Levy said. “He used the perfect pick-up line for me. I was attracted to his vulnerability.”

Levy, 79, and her husband have been together ever since. They raised three daughters, and now they have five grandchildren. Telling them how their grandparents met comes easily for Levy; she’s a natural storyteller with a quick wit and an engaging sense of humor.

Blessed with the gift of gab, Levy was surprised to discover, while attending a memoir-writing course at Florida Atlantic University some 30 years ago, that not all grandmothers have family tales tripping off their tongues.

“When I came into the class, the room was loaded with grandparents who wanted to put their memories down for their grandchildren. Many of them thought they’d become a voice on the phone or a present in the mail, and they really didn’t like that,” she recalled. “But I could see that they were having trouble doing it, because they weren’t writers — they were carers and sharers, but they weren’t writers.” That realization led to a best-selling book, “Grandmother Remembers: A Written Heirloom for My Grandchild.” It has been translated into five languages (including Hebrew) and has sold more than 3 million copies. A 30th anniversary edition was published this year, several months ahead of National Grandparents Day, the first Sunday after Labor Day. (Not everyone knows about the holiday, let alone celebrates it, but it is clearly an important calendar event for Levy.) “Grandmother Remembers” has spawned a series of related books written by Levy, including “Grandfather Remembers,” “Grandmother Remembers Holidays,” “Our Chosen Child” (to be completed by parents of adopted children) and “My Baby and Me” (a single parent’s journal), among others.

“Grandmother Remembers” is essentially “a baby book backwards,” as Levy puts it. An illustrated album, it has spaces for photographs, but its pages are mainly filled with writing prompts to help a grandmother put down her memories on paper for posterity.


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • Planning on catching "Fading Gigolo" this weekend? Read our review.
  • A new initiative will spend $300 million a year towards strengthening Israel's relationship with the Diaspora. http://jd.fo/q3Iaj Is this money spent wisely?
  • Lusia Horowitz left pre-state Israel to fight fascism in Spain — and wound up being captured by the Nazis and sent to die at Auschwitz. Share her remarkable story — told in her letters.
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.