The CapRadio Reads Interview

In November, Capital Public Radio’s Donna Apidone interviewed me in front of a live audience about my great-grandfather’s art, the CHASING PORTRAITS book, and the forthcoming documentary film. The interview is now available online. Listen Here.

Podcast Interview at the Deerfield (IL) Public Library

“On this episode of the Deerfield Public Library Podcast, we had the great pleasure of talking to Elizabeth Rynecki, author of Chasing Portraits: A Great-Granddaughter’s Quest for Her Lost Art Legacy. We discussed her amazing, decades-long project to find the missing paintings of her great-grandfather, Moshe Rynecki, who painted scenes of Polish-Jewish life in the interwar years. At the start of World War II, Moshe Rynecki hid his life’s work with family friends, and was later murdered at the Majdanek concentration camp. While some paintings were recovered after the war, many remained (and still remain) lost.

Elizabeth’s memoir and forthcoming documentary, also titled Chasing Portraits, trace her story of discovery and meditate on the legacy of World War II and survivorship. Learn more and see Moshe Rynecki’s paintings at while you listen to our conversation.

You can check out Chasing Portraits from the library or find other books and movies mentioned in our conversation here.”

Q&A with Swenson Book Development

Below is an excerpt from an interview with Trace Sonnleitner at Swenson Book Development about Chasing Portraits, family memories, research, writing, and the documentary film:

Chasing Portraits: A Great-Granddaughter’s Quest for Her Lost Art Legacy by Elizabeth Rynecki, is the story of her search for the art of her great-grandfather, which disappeared after he was killed in the Majdanek concentration camp. Moshe Rynecki’s body of work reached close to eight hundred paintings and sculptures, which he created between the First and Second World Wars in Warsaw, Poland. Recently, I interviewed her about her research, writing the book, and working on the documentary film.

Trace Sonnleitner: The interactions you portray between Moshe and his parents, and between you and your parents, and grandparents, remind me of some generational differences in my own family. When I ask them questions about their past they are usually answered with quickly worded stories that make me laugh, or draw out my sympathetic emotions. Did you intentionally display these generational differences in your own family?

Elizabeth Rynecki: My goal was to tell the story of my great-grandfather’s art, but it quickly became clear that each generation—the artist, his father, his son, my Dad, and I—had very different relationships to the art. My great-grandfather, the artist, felt an incredible compulsion to paint. His son, my Grandpa George, understood the historical importance of his father’s work, especially in light of his death in the Holocaust. Dad understood his father’s love of the art and asked me to build a website to make the art more accessible to others.

I have taken Dad’s initial steps and pushed an even more expansive view—to uncover details about the past so audiences might better appreciate and understand the history of the collection. Each generation’s expertise played a slightly different role in shaping how the next generation would experience and make sense of the art and its history.

[Read the rest of the interview on Swenson Book Development’s Blog]

Friday Morning Coffee: Chasing Portraits Author Elizabeth Rynecki on Writer’s Bone

Chasing Portraits author and documentary film producer Elizabeth Rynecki talks to Daniel Ford on the podcast Writer’s Bone about her emotional and personal project to find her Polish-Jewish great-grandfather’s paintings that were lost during World War II.

    writer's bone

    Chasing Portraits Radio Interview – Dallas, TX

    Missed my interview on KERA’s Think? Not to worry, you can listen to it online or download it as a podcast.

    KERA Think








    About Think: “Since launching in November 2006, Think and host Krys Boyd have earned more than a dozen local, regional and national awards, including the 2012 Public Radio News Directors Inc. first place award for best call-in show, the 2016 Texas AP Broadcasters 2nd place award for local talk show, the 2013 Regional Edward R. Murrow award for breaking news coverage and more. In addition to airing on KERA FM, Think also is among the most-downloaded local podcasts in the public radio system, receiving about 200,000 downloads each month – more than half of which come from listeners outside the state. In each of the past two years, Think has been invited to broadcast live from the NPR headquarters in Washington, D.C.” []

    Reading the Megillah

    In the months since Chasing Portraits was released (September 2016 was the publication date), I frequently get asked if I have anything new to report about finding my great-grandfather’s lost paintings. Up until today, the answer was “no.” Today I received an email from a Polish friend who continues to astonish me with his discoveries. Today he sent me the image of a painting titled, “Reading the Megilah,” an ink drawing published in the Warsaw Yiddish daily, Unzer Express on March 17, 1938. The illustration was included to illustrate several articles on the page about Purim. Purim commemorates the salvation of the Jewish people in ancient Persia from Haman’s plot “to destroy, kill and annihilate all the Jews, young and old, infants and women, in a single day,” as recorded in the Megillah (book of Esther).


    Capital Public Radio Interview

    Woman Discovers Holocaust-Era Paintings With “Chasing Portraits” Book.


    Listen to the interview on Capital Public Radio’s website.


    ‘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.”


    A ‘Moral Imperative’ to Recover a Lost Art Legacy

    Chasing Portraits is in today’s New York Times:

    NYTimes August 2016