The best books about legacy and legacy projects

Merle R. Saferstein Author Of Living and Leaving My Legacy, Vol. 1
By Merle R. Saferstein

Who am I?

In my 26 years as a Holocaust educator, I worked closely with hundreds of Holocaust survivors helping them to pass along their legacy of remembrance to thousands of students and teachers. When I retired, I developed and began teaching a course entitled Living and Leaving Your Legacy®. Since 2012, I have taught 64 classes and have spoken to audiences locally, nationally, and internationally. My goal is to help people understand that how we live our lives becomes our legacy. I have worked with individuals at the end of their lives helping them to do sacred legacy work and have trained hospice staffs and volunteers to do the same.


I wrote...

Living and Leaving My Legacy, Vol. 1

By Merle R. Saferstein,

Book cover of Living and Leaving My Legacy, Vol. 1

What is my book about?

Imagine having a written record of your life—your thoughts, feelings, lessons learned, conversations, encounters, memories, dreams, travel adventures, and more. In Living and Leaving My Legacy, Vol. 1, Merle R. Saferstein shares carefully curated excerpts from over 40 years of her journaling. Each is a sampling of her life: the good and bad, the easy and difficult, the challenges and breakthroughs. Saferstein has organized these excerpts by the major experiences of life as a woman, wife, mother, educator, and more. Chapters conclude with thought-provoking journal prompts meant to inspire readers and deepen their life journey. In reading this legacy journal, the reader will better understand that how we live our lives becomes our legacy.

The books I picked & why

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Legacy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Personal History

By Linda Spence,

Book cover of Legacy: A Step-By-Step Guide to Writing Personal History

Why this book?

In this book Linda Spence begins by explaining what our legacy is and how the story of one’s life is a priceless legacy which captures the individual’s essence. Spence answers the question of why write one’s life story and describes how doing so benefits both the recipients and writers themselves. She guides writers by providing a myriad of questions to answer which cover an entire life from childhood to old age. Pence encourages them to share reflections, wisdom, and experience, all the while writing from one’s heart. I have used this excellent guide for helping students write their legacies.


Women's Lives, Women's Legacies: Passing Your Beliefs and Blessings to Future Generations

By Rachael Freed,

Book cover of Women's Lives, Women's Legacies: Passing Your Beliefs and Blessings to Future Generations

Why this book?

When I first considered becoming a legacy educator, Women’s Lives, Women’s Legacies was the first book I read on the subject of legacy. This comprehensive book written by Rachel Freed presents women with the opportunity to explore their entire lives with the goal of creating something in writing that is a record of who they are and what has mattered in their lives. The book is divided into three sections: The past where readers examine family history and the legacies of feminine ancestors, the present where they explore who they are and where they came from, and the future where they put their legacy into words. Each chapter affords the reader the opportunity to reflect and create a legacy work to leave behind.


So Grows the Tree: Creating an Ethical Will

By Jo Kline Cebuhar,

Book cover of So Grows the Tree: Creating an Ethical Will

Why this book?

Jo Kline Cebuhar gives the reader the historical background of the age-old tradition of writing  an ethical will in So Grows the Tree: Creating an Ethical Will. She explains how ethical wills pass along life lessons, values and beliefs, and hopes and dreams for the future generations. The book serves as a step-by-step guide to creating an ethical will but also leaves room for the reader to write notes along the way. In addition to writing ethical wills, Cebuhar also offers other suggestions for creating a legacy project, such as an embellished photo album, scrapbook, genealogy, and cookbook as well as a video or audio recording or a PowerPoint slideshow. I found this book to be extremely helpful in illustrating to my students the variety of ways these legacy projects communicate important messages to loved ones.


The Forever Letter: Writing What We Believe for Those We Love

By Elana Zaiman,

Book cover of The Forever Letter: Writing What We Believe for Those We Love

Why this book?

While the art of letter writing has become a thing of the past, in The Forever Letter: Writing What We Believe for Those We Love Rabbi Elana Zaiman shows the reader how sharing insights and beliefs can have a profound effect on one’s family. She tells personal stories as well as those from others in the hopes of inspiring readers to transmit their life lessons and who they are in a forever  letter—something that can be passed down through generations of loved ones. Rabbi Zaiman suggests that the readers share their values in a letter so that it becomes a gift for both the writer and the receiver. After reading this book, I wrote a forever letter to my children and have encouraged my students to do the same for their loved ones.


The Story You Need to Tell: Writing to Heal from Trauma, Illness, or Loss

By Sandra Marinella,

Book cover of The Story You Need to Tell: Writing to Heal from Trauma, Illness, or Loss

Why this book?

As a former college writing teacher, Sandra Marinella understands the value of writing one’s story. In The Story You Need to Tell, she recounts her personal journey with breast cancer and tells the stories of others who experienced their own illnesses and traumas. Throughout the book and with the help of writing prompts, Marinella guides and encourages readers to write their stories as an empowering way to heal. She demonstrates how this leads individuals to move toward a better and fuller self as well as to a new, hopeful, and resilient narrative. I recommend this book because it is an excellent guide to writing one’s story, which will eventually become part of that person’s legacy.


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