Suzette Sheft, 17, novelist who told her survivor grandmother’s story


At 16, Manhattanite Suzette Sheft published her first novel, “Running for Shelter: A True Story,” a retelling of her grandmother’s Holocaust survival story. Her father’s untimely death motivated Sheft to write the book: “His passing exemplified to me the importance of recording our loved one’s stories before it is too late,” she tells the New York Jewish Week. A student at the Horace Mann School, Sheft also teaches creative writing to elementary school kids in the Bronx and is a young spokesperson for the USC Shoah Foundation. 

For the full list of this year’s “36 to Watch” — which honors leaders, entrepreneurs and changemakers who are making a difference in New York’s Jewish community — click here.

Who is your New York Jewish hero?

Ruth Bader Ginsburg.

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Do you have a favorite inspiring quote?

“Success is not final, failure is not fatal: it is the courage to continue that counts.” ― Winston S. Churchill

How does your Jewish identity or experience influence your work?

The Jewish tradition of sharing stories and asking questions is central to my writing and my being. I grew up listening to my dad’s and my grandmother’s childhood stories. This environment inspired me to become a storyteller and shaped me into the writer I am today. It specifically pushed me to preserve and share my family’s stories.

In one sentence, what was your best experience as a Jewish New Yorker?

Barney Greengrass ― my family used to have Sunday brunch there every week when I was younger.

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