Lawyer Recreates Family’s Journey in Book
Arts & CultureLocal

Lawyer Recreates Family’s Journey in Book

Ted Blum took time during COVID to craft “Calculated Risks,” a book that poses questions and unites.

After 37 years with the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and now with the AJT, , Jaffe’s focus is lifestyle, art, dining, fashion, and community events with emphasis on Jewish movers and shakers.

The Blum family explored the Budapest portion of the journey.
The Blum family explored the Budapest portion of the journey.

Ted Blum, managing shareholder of Greenberg Traurig’s Atlanta law office and chair of the firm’s Atlanta Corporate & Securities Practice, focused during COVID on crafting his book, “Calculated Risks.”

On the one hand, responsible for the growth and strategic direction of the firm with more than 100 attorneys, Blum set out to explore his family’s inspirational story of heartache, survival, and hope. A product of Hungarian Jewish immigrants, he shares the travails of his ancestors.

He recalled, “One of the silver linings of COVID was the addition of extra time in my busy schedule to allow a rare opportunity to reflect on my family’s legacy more deeply than ever before. Growing up, it was surreal to grasp the concept…refugees fleeing to a safer place.”

Blum rummaged through boxes of documents collecting dust in closets. He was fascinated by unraveling stories and impossible decisions made along the way. Blum and wife, Leah, recreated the steps by traveling where relatives traversed on their harried exit from Europe while the world was at war. On one research trip, he commissioned the only custom globe maker in the world to create a family globe detailing their journeys. This became a passion project for Blum.

Ted Blum employed a globe maker to recreate the family’s journey.

While the whole of Europe was falling to Nazi Germany, Jews all over the continent were at risk. Blum’s maternal grandfather understood the danger in Hungary and scraped together the money to come to New York on a tourist visa, ostensibly to visit the 1939 World’s Fair, while others remained in Budapest waiting. Once in America, he used his prestigious degree from the Sorbonne in Paris as a metallurgist and chemist to work by recycling metal for war production.

There, he secured a patent that helped the U.S. recycle tin to help the war effort.

Considered an “essential worker” in the U.S., he was then able to send for Blum’s grandma, aunt, and mom. Blum shared, “They were among the last 10 visas issued to Hungarian citizens before the U.S. entered the war. They were very lucky to get out but felt torn as they left their extended family and all they had ever known behind.”

The book strings through Portugal, Spain, ships in risky waters, trains through Nazi-occupied territory, until arriving in New York into the saving arms of HIAS. Blum said, “Like literally millions of other immigrants, they knew they had arrived when they sailed by the Statue of Liberty. Unfortunately, acclimating from this point was not smooth either.”

Leah and Ted Blum in Berlin researching the rise of the Nazi threat.

Blum doesn’t view this as a Holocaust escape story. Neither pair of grandparents was under immediate threat of death. He concluded, “In reality, it’s possible they could have remained where they were and survived, but it wasn’t a risk they were willing to take. This story is about a family journey, and no two journeys are alike.

My story shows how ordinary people can do the extraordinary when called for. More than the Holocaust — it’s about surviving during tumultuous times in the early 20th century, with economic, technological, and political change.”

The book also reveals Blum’s paternal grandfather, Henry, who fought in the trenches for the Austro-Hungarian Empire during World War I, captured in an overwhelming Russian victory, surviving years in captivity as a prisoner deep in Siberia, and later emigrating to the U.S.

Blum visited the hospital in Rijeka, Croatia, where his mother was born.

“Calculated Risks” lays out what ties us together as Americans. Blum concluded, “We are all seeking the path to our best lives. For many, our ancestors came from far away and sometimes under duress. My story aligns with many in the U.S., and the book poses questions: Who came before me? How did I get here? How does it impact my life and the way I am today? Despite our differences and where we came from, there are common ties that bind us all together: love of family, appreciation of our many freedoms here, and a desire for a better life.”

Pre-order a signed hardcover of “Calculated Risks” at A portion of the proceeds will be donated to Helping Ukraine | One Day for Ukraine. Also available for purchase on Amazon. Please visit for more info.

read more: