The Empathy Advantage by Lynne Azarchi with Larry Hanover: A Back-to-School Timely Review

The Empathy Advantage: Coaching Children to be Kind, Respectful, and Successful

by Lynne Azarchi with Larry Hanover

In the play/movie South Pacific, Lt. Cable sings a sad song called You’ve Got to be Taught (to hate and fear), referring to his own biased upbringing. In Lynne Azarchi’s new book, The Empathy Advantage, I learned that we can also be taught the opposite: EMPATHY, which I thought was part of our DNA and difficult to learn. Am I happy I’m wrong in my assumption! With this book’s guidance, I now have a tool with which to upgrade my empathy meter so that I am even more aware of opportunities for compassion, respect and empathy. How I wish I had such a book when I was in college and majored in Education decades ago.

This 265-page book, with 33 pages of  appendices, notes and an impressive bibliography, is filled with helpful information for parents and especially teachers, who may have noticed since the advent of the Internet and less face-to-face communication, that young persons’ empathy meters need a boost, requiring more actual exercises and actions that children can learn to upgrade their own empathy level.

The author, Lynne Azarchi, is the executive director of Kidsbridge Tolerance Center outside of Trenton, NJ. As About the Author notes, this nonprofit organization is “dedicated to fostering bullying prevention, diversity appreciation, empathy, and empowerment for youth.” Quite a heavy roster to tackle, but if her book is any indication of her commitment, passion, and dedication to providing the empathy advantage, as her title says, then this game changer for the already thousands of children that have attended the center can become a wonderful tool for the parents and teachers who use it.

The 21 chapters in the book cover the science and biology behind empathy, parent tips, and teaching children at home and at school, from infancy through high school and college. One critical chapter, Chapter 12, tackles the importance of empathy to prevent bullying, a main focus at the center. Often referring to her own challenges with her children, Lynne tackles such related topics as self-compassion, active listening, social media issues and empathy, the importance of pets as role models for learning empathy, and much, much more. The goal is to have children feel what it is like to walk in someone else’s shoes and experience compassion and empathy for their experiences.

The range of topics; the amount of research in the pages; the helpful charts, lists and photos*; plus the passion of Lynne’s commitment to teaching empathy are palpable….and contagious..  Now I want to learn how to practice more compassion, respect and kindness, all of which Lynne covers in her book.

With the help of Larry Hanover, a skilled writer, Lynne Azarchi has produced a book worthy of your attention, whether you are a teacher, a parent, or just a person who likes children and can use the techniques and ideas in this book to enhance your ability to listen to children and develop your own brand of compassion and empathy.

The Empathy Advantage is published by Rowman & Littlefield publishers and costs $30. A paperback version is in the works. Get your own copy to ramp up your empathy factor!


*Below is just one simple, yet effective photo in the book. As the author notes with the photo:

“At the Kidsbridge Tolerance Center, we define empathy as walking in another person’s shoes because this is a very easy concept to understand, especially for kids.”




International Holocaust Remembrance Day, January 27th: A Short Reading List and New Website

Even before starting to edit Cherie Goren’s book about her childhood before Hitler came to Lithuania, (A Time to Keep), I was reading survival stories, and now have a bookshelf for these stories. Below is a list of some of these books and a brief description for each one:


Ann S. Arnold: TOGETHER, A Journey for Survival. This is a heart-wrenching and also heart-warming book of one mother’s bravery and cleverness that resulted in the survival of the author’s father and her aunt, as well as her grandmother, Sala. ( Avalerion Books, $21.00, 146 pages with photos). Note: I plan a full review of this book on Mother’s Day, if not before.










Fred Behrend with Larry Hanover: Rebuilt from Broken Glass: A German Jewish Life Remade in America. Fred Behrend came to America via Cuba, having left Germany on Kristallnacht (The Night of Broken Glass), November 9, 1939. His success story as a young immigrant is inspiring! I reviewed this on Amazon, the second review down. (Purdue University Press, $30.00.) I know Larry personally and met Fred, whose energy and love for life comes through in person as well as in the book.






Vivian Jeanette Kaplan: Ten Green Bottles: The True Story of One Family’s Journey from War-torn Austria to the Ghettos of Shanghai. This is another memoir written by the daughter of Nina Karpel, who fled to China with her family. This is an amazing story for me, because I never knew that so many Jews fled to Shanghai when they could not get passage elsewhere. (No passport needed to go to China.) Their survival in a ghetto right before the Germans planned on invading is eye-opening. (St. Martin’s Press, $24.95, 285 pages)
















Nelly Toll. Behind the Secret Window: A Memoir of a Hidden Childhood During World War Two. Puffin Books.
I reviewed this book a few Mother’s Days ago. Here is the link to that review:…w-by-nellie-toll/ ‎ (Penguin Putnam, Prices vary, 161 pages)

*Below is an excerpt from my review. I talked with Nelly over the phone. She lives in NJ and is friends with a member of my extended family.


*While I was safe and sound in our little home in New Jersey with my parents and siblings during World War II, little Nelly Toll was living in terror of the Nazis. While she kept a diary, like Anne Frank, Toll’s book, Behind the Secret Window, is not a diary, but rather her memories of dashing with her mother to a window cell when the Germans came, a “secret” window bricked from the outside prior to WWII, inside the home of the couple who hid Nellie and her mother from the Germans. Unlike Anne Frank, Nelly survived and was able to fantasize a better life in the watercolor paintings she made while in hiding, the art of which is, in fact, joyful.



Prof. Arthus Shostak: Stealth Altruism: Forbidden Care as Jewish Resistance in the Holocaust.  

Excerpt from the publisher, Routledge Press: (Direct Quote) Arthur B. Shostak explores forbidden acts of kindness, such as sharing scarce clothing and food rations, holding up weakened fellow prisoners during roll call, secretly replacing an ailing friend in an exhausting work detail, and much more. To date, memorialization has emphasized what was done to victims and sidelined what victims tried to do for one another. “Carers” provide an inspiring model and their perilous efforts should be recognized and taught alongside the horrors of the Holocaust. Humanity needs such inspiration. (330 pages, $21.95)

Note: I know Art Shostak personally because he used to live close by, before moving to California. His book inspired me to find Holocaust refugees to tell their success stories despite adversity, as I am now doing with Cherie Goren and her book, A Time to Keep.


SPECIAL NOTE on Websites: 


1. There is a new website that is very informative about the Holocaust:

Please go there to learn more out more about this website and all that it offers. It is sponsored by the World Jewish Digest and UNESCO.


    2. This website was created by my tai chi friend, Paulette, with the explanation after the address:  — Letters, Documents and Images of the Jellinek Family Confronting the Holocaust

“Many of my family letters pertain to being a refugee, escaping from the Nazis, finding temporary refuge in Brno, then-Czechoslovakia and in Shanghai, China, and more permanent refuge in New York City, in Mandate Palestine/later Israel, and in Sydney, Australia. “


I hope you will consider reading some of these books and checking out the websites, since I believe the information is invaluable in helping us understand the current issue with anti-semitism and also the issue
of immigration and the wall that Trump wishes to build between here and Mexico
.  ellensue

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