Monday night was really special, because I was invited to have dinner at Hédi Fried's house. Hédi is a most amazing woman. She is Jewish and was born in Romania. She studied to be a teacher but during World War II, she was put on a transport to Auschwitz. Later, she was transferred to the Bergen Belsen concentration camp. After liberation, her group of survivors were sent to Sweden, where she made her home. She married a fellow survivor, studied for a master's degree in psychology at Stockholm University and she has since devoted her life tirelessly to issues relating to the Holocaust, including therapy for child survivors and second generation survivors, and in later years she has moved into work more generally with the prevention of genocide and the trauma associated with genocide. Hédi has written several fascinating books about her life and her experiences and is just one very special, very astonishing woman, who at almost 81 travels more widely - Rwanda, Hiroshima, and in January, of course, the 60th commemoration of the liberation of Auschwitz - and addresses more conferences, both political and educational in a year than I do in five.

We met six years ago when I first came to Sweden and have been dear friends ever since. I can not put into words how much my friendship with Hédi means, so it is always so wonderful to spend time with her. She invited me for dinner at her house on St. Valentine's along with my former editor Jeanette, who is now working in audio books, and Jeanette's husband Charlie. The meal was fantastic and SO beautifully done. Hédi made us a special Jewish meal with four courses and that doesn't count the lovely nibbles before dinner and the cheese and fruit afterwards. I was very well fed!

Here we are, preparing to enjoy the main course. That's Hédi, tirelessly serving us!


The orange casserole dish contained a very special Jewish dish from Hédi's childhood called "tsholent" (we discussed this and that is the Swedish spelling but it is probably different in English.) It is made of butter beans, kidney beans, barley and sometimes meat. Because Jews are not meant to do any work on the Sabbath, including cooking, this dish was usually served because it could be cooked in very low heat. So it would be made up the day before and then left in the oven after baking bread the day before, because as the old-fashioned bread oven cooled down, this was enough heat to cook it. I thought it was delicious and had three portions (which is maybe why I thought Hédi served us such a big meal!!)

But such a wonderful and special time. And here is a picture of Hédi and me together at the end of the meal.