A Great-Granddaughter's Legacy

Paris Writers News

Read the interview I did with Laurel Zuckerman on her Paris Writers News blog about Chasing Portraits in which I answer questions like: “Can you talk about the challenges of interviewing your own family – in particular your father – for information?” and “You’ve done an outstanding job articulating not just the beauty and power of your great-grandfather’s art, but also the emotional toll of searching for it. The grief, the obsessive desire to learn more, the doubt. Yet Chasing Portraits feels very even handed and fair. Was the original text like this or did you have to go through many drafts to attain this result?”


Schedule an Author Visit

The Reader, no date

Last night I attended a book group in Los Angeles via FaceTime to chat and answer questions about Chasing Portraits. And you know what?! It was so much darn fun for all of us. My contact from the group sent me this thank you email:

“Thank you, thank you, thank you!! Your participation in our book group discussion this evening was invaluable! Making Chasing Portraits available to us through your perseverance and tireless commitment to the work of tracking down your great-grandfather’s lost art is a generous gift in itself. The added gift of your time this evening was such a bonus and was very appreciated by all in attendance. This group has been meeting every month for almost ten years (I joined in 2009), and has never before been honored by the presence of an author. I can’t thank you enough!”

Is your book club reading Chasing Portraits? I’d love to join your discussion. I pop in after you’re settled in and have a glass of wine in hand. Then we chat for 30 to 40 minutes.
Email me to set it up: elizabeth [@] ChasingPortraits [dot] orgReader, 1930


kpixThis morning I filmed a show on the KPIX set for MOSAIC. MOSAIC interviews explore how Bay Area people’s lives are enriched by diversity of cultural and faith perspectives. The show, “Book Chat,” was hosted by Rabbi Eric Weiss. Guests included myself, Howard Freedman (Director, Jewish Community Library) and Michael David Lukas (Author, The Oracle of Stamboul). The episode will air Sunday October 9th at 5am. The show is divided into four segments. I am in the final two segments. The show is unlikely to be archived online, so if you want to watch it, and don’t plan to be up that early, you can certainly record it!

A Grant Challenge!

The Chasing Portraits documentary film is in post-production editing (and we are awfully close to a first generation rough cut!!). To complete the film we need additional funding for an original score, color correction, graphics, and sound mixing, all so that watching it on the big screen is a rewarding experience! An incredibly generous and anonymous donor recently pledged to match funds up to $25,000. We’ve secured $10,000 $15,000 $15,250 $17,250 $17,995 in pledges and now need to raise an additional $7,005 [updated four times, most recently 10/18/2016]. Can you help us out? All amounts help!


You can donate online [via PayPal, by check, or by phone].

Book Q&As with Deborah Kalb

I did a Q&A with Deborah Kalb. My favorite question? How was the book’s title chosen, and what does it signify for you? Read the answer here.


Talk at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco

If you’d like to hear me speak about the Chasing Portraits project, but you there’s not an event close to you, you can watch this talk recorded at the Jewish Community Center of San Francisco.



Library Journal Review

Library Journal. September.

Rynecki, Elizabeth. Chasing Portraits:
A Great-Granddaughter’s Quest for Her Lost Art Legacy. NAL: Penguin. Sept. 2016. 400p. notes. bibliog. ISBN 9781101987667. $28; ebk. ISBN 9781101987681. MEMOIR
This debut by Rynecki is simultaneously a family history, an exploration of Jewish art destroyed by the Holocaust, and one woman’s struggle to understand and redefine her place among family and the world around her. In prose that reads like a novel, the author draws readers into her journey to locate and engage with as much of her great-grandfather’s art as possible. Although primarily focused on Rynecki’s great-grandfather, a Polish artist who disappeared during the Holocaust, the book is set against the larger backdrop of artists whose work and lives were stolen by the horrific events of World War II, and how their output must endure in order to have a chance at being restored and recognized. Rynecki also reveals how, through the tangible connection of art, the descendants of Holocaust victims and survivors discover their role in family stories and world history. VERDICT This personal and impassioned account will appeal to anyone interested in creativity, art history, the impact of World War II and the Holocaust on modern life, as well as readers curious about genealogy and the power of family stories.—Elizabeth Zeitz, Otterbein Univ. Lib., Westerville, OH


Book News!

Last night was the official book launch of Chasing Portraits at Powell’s Books in Portland, Oregon. It was an in-conversation even with Judy Margles (Director of the Oregon Jewish Museum and the Center for Holocaust Education). The questions were great and the audience was delightful! My next event is Monday night at the JCCSF. powells

Today I woke up to some really lovely press about Chasing Portraits. Reading Group Choices placed it on their Featured Books list. Bustle posted “9 New Memoirs for your Next Book Club Pick,” and Chasing Portraits topped the list at #1! And last, but not least, New York’s, The Jewish Week, included Chasing Portraits in its list of non-fiction picks.




‘Chasing Portraits’ recounts journey into lost world

jweekly september 2016There’s nothing quite like hometown coverage! Thank you so much Robert Nagler Miller and JWeekly for this really lovely piece, “‘Chasing Portraits’ recounts journey into lost world,” about the Chasing Portraits project, book, and upcoming events.

I hope to see you at one of these upcoming bay area events.

September 12, 2016. 7pm
San Francisco JCC
[Free, but advance reservation required!]
(3200 California Street | San Francisco, CA)

October 4, 2016. 7pm
Book Passage
(51 Tamal Vista Blvd, Corte Madera, CA)

October 16, 2016. 3pm
Jewish Historical Society of Napa Valley
Congregation Beth Shalom
(1455 Elm Street, Napa)
This program is free for JHSNV members and $5.00 for non-members. There will be refreshments served.

Can’t make one of these three?

Check out the calendar for other events.





San Francisco Magazine

Hey, thanks, San Francisco Magazine! What’s not to love about this fun and whimsical write up about Chasing Portraits?!

A Detective Story, Sort Of
“Follow the lead of Oakland’s Elizabeth Rynecki and her hotly anticipated nonfiction debut, Chasing Portraits (Sept. 6, Penguin Random House), to become a buzzed-about writer yourself.”