As we’ve said before Gerda Weissmann Klein, didn’t just write The Windsor Caper – Gerda is an acclaimed author, lecturer and Holocaust survivor whose story was made into the Oscar- and Emmy-winning film “One Survivor Remembers.”
Her books include her autobiography, “All But My Life,” as well as “A Boring Evening at Home”; “The Hours After: Letters of Love and Longing,” which she co-wrote with her late husband, not forgetting The Blue Rose – a touching story about autism with photographs by Norma Holt which explains how Jenny is different from other girls and why she needs more love and understanding.
In 1998, Gerda and Kurt formed The Klein Foundation to promote tolerance for differences, respect for others and the empowerment of students through education and community service.
THE BLUE ROSE is the story of Jenny, a child thought to have autism. The first edition became a Reader’s Digest feature, inspired a film in India, musical score in Canada, and the creation of The Blue Rose Foundation in the USA.
Over Forty years ago, Gerda Weissmann Klein wrote this touching children’s book as a birthday gift for 6-year-old Jenny Innerfield, who was a developmentally disabled neighbor in Kenmore (New York).
But at the time, nobody foresaw the impact of the book.
“The Blue Rose” — designed to help children understand and appreciate people who are different — became the centerpiece of a charitable drive that raised nearly $300,000 for local groups who benefit people with developmental disabilities.
Decades later, organizers revised and reprinted the book to again raise both awareness and funds. This time Edited by The Blue Rose Foundation and Illustrated by Errol Daniels.
Gerda Weissmann Klein’s initial, spontaneous birthday gift grew to unimagined significance due to commitment, creativity and good chemistry, said Beverly Slichta-Cusick, president of the Blue Rose Foundation, which coordinated the effort.
Jenny Innerfield, now 47, lives at West Seneca Developmental Center and is employed in a workshop there
Jenny is like a kitten without a tail. She is like a bird with shorter wings. For a normal bird it’s easy to take off and go fly; nobody thinks about it. But with somebody with shorter wings, you haveto work much harder. I got that idea when I saw Jenny trying to tie her sneaker. It was a tremendous, tremendous effort. You tie your sneakers so easily you don’t think about it. But if someone does not have the dexterity, then all the other things is an enormous effort.
By the same token, when people say look at crazy Jenny who dances without music, perhaps she hears music which our ears are not tuned to hear. Maybe she sees shapes when she doesn’t listen to us and finds colors we are not able to conceive. Other people think because she is different, she’s crazy.
When I remember that little bit from my own life, I remember a couple of days after I came to this country I overheard a boy say to his mother, ‘This lady is so stupid; she doesn’t even speak English.’ I didn’t speak English but I speak other languages. I understood what he said. I thought, how strange and how bad that we cannot communicate, and that I cannot tell him what I am thinking because we don’t speak the same language. So perhaps, in a silent way, Jenny understands things which are way beyond our understanding cause she hears things.
This is why I think it is so tremendously important for us to sometimes reach into somebody else’s life who might look different; who might play differently; or might be of a different color; who
cannot speak our language – to try to understand the beauty and the greatness of their thoughts.
Gerda Weissmann Klein
The stage performance from the Book
You may be lucky to get hold of a copy of the book now but if you just want to read the The Blue Rose – a touching story about autism – check out the Right to Live Association – Why the Blue Rose