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Giving the Sonder Award, thanking Alfred Lerner

Each year, one participant of the Summer Institute receives the Sonder Award.  This award was founded by Johanna Stark and Kate Tarnofsky, two sisters who, as children, were able to leave Germany before WWII began.  The award is named for their grandfather Eduard Sonder, who they adored.  Eduard was not able to leave Germany, and the girls never saw their grandfather again – he was killed during the Holocaust. 

The award is a full scholarship to attend the program.  The recipient also recieves Teuscher chocolates, a reminder of the chocolates Eduard would bring his two granddaughters upon his return from business trips to Switzerland.  This year’s recipient of the Sonder Award was Terry Beasley from the Midwest Center for Holocaust Education. 

Kate (left) and Joan, giving Terry (center) the Sonder Award

Kate and Joan presented Terry with the award, and made plans to keep in touch. 

 

Stanlee Stahl, Joan Stark, Terry Beasley, and Kate Tarnofsky

The JFR is able to make the Summer Institute happen in large part because of our donors.  Alfred Lerner was a wonderful donor, who contributed generously to the JFR’s education program, which is why we call each of our teacher participants Lerner Fellows.  In order to honor his memory, we take a picture each year in front of Alfred Lerner Hall, the building on Columbia University’s campus named for him. 

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Learning and Understanding: Day 2 of the Summer Institute

This morning Professor Harry Reicher spoke about law during the Holocaust.  Participants learned that in the twelve years of Nazi rule, some 4,000 laws were promulgated.  We also learned that Nazis had no respect for the law, however, they used it as a tool for their own advantage.

Professor Harry Reicher

Professor Peter Hayes also lectured this morning – he spoke about how businesses played a critical role in Nazi power and the Final Solution.  Professor Hayes’s lecture was revelatory in explaining how the interests of the state crept into the inner-workings of many of Germany’s big companies.

Professor Peter Hayes

After lunch we heard from Professor Henry Feingold, another mainstay at our Summer Institute for Teachers.  Professor Feingold discussed immigration policy during World War II, and talked about the seemingly endless “what ifs” from that time period that, in hindsight, we find ourselves asking.  Professor Feingold also reinforced the functionalist sentiment that was touched upon in many other lectures.  Functionalists believe that the Holocaust happened as a function of many factors, where intentionalists believe that the Holocaust was more or less inevitable.

Our day concluded with Gail Rosenthal, who is the director of the Richard Stockton College Holocaust Resource Center which is one of our Centers of Excellence.  She presented the film Daring to Resist, and talked about the importance of using survivor testimony in the classroom.

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Starting the Summer Institute for Teachers

Today began the 2011 Summer Institute for teachers.  We are very lucky to have another great group of teachers, who bring a variety of backgrounds and teaching styles to our seminar.  This week will include intense learning and discussion of the many facets of Holocaust studies, and give our Lerner Fellows new ideas on how to teach this complicated topic in the classroom. 

Our first day began with a fantastic lecture from Professor John Roth, who talked about Jews, Christians, and anti-Semitism, a lecture that laid the groundwork for the topics discussed throughout the week. His discussion reinforced the idea that many factors were necessary for the Holocaust to happen, and reminded all of us of Raul Hilberg’s eternal idea that there is no finality to the study of the Holocaust.

Professor John Roth

As in years past we had the pleasure of hearing from Columbia Professor Dr. Volker Berghahn, who discussed the Interwar period in German history.  This historical time period is critical to understanding how the Nazis rose to power.  We are so lucky that Professor Berghahn continues to be a mainstay at our Summer Institute.

Professor Volker Berghahn

After each lecture, participants broke into discussion groups, where teachers were able to synthesise the lecture and share ideas as to how to teach the subject matter in the classroom.

Groups presented to each other, and each group was able to contribute new pedagogical tools and interesting food for thought.

This year we had a new first-day addition: Alexandra Zapruder presented on her book Salvaged Pages, which contains diaries and diary excerpts from Jewish children who were persecuted during the Holocaust.  Alexandra discussed how to use her book as a teaching tool in the classroom.  Using these diaries can be the key in opening up the discussion of Holocaust to young people, were the Holocaust is accessible to students when understood through the words of age peers.

We concluded our first day with an opening dinner at Columbia’s Faculty House Restaurant, where we got a chance to get to know one another on a more personal level.

Stay tuned for posts on the Institute!

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Meeting teachers in Illinois

Tomorrow I leave for Skokie, IL where I am presenting at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center’s Summer Institute on the Holocaust, their annual teacher education program.  In addition to meeting new teachers, and hopefully seeing some of our Alfred Lerner Fellows, I will be speaking on the rescue of Jews by non-Jews during the Holocaust with an emphasis on rescue in Poland.  I look forward to an interesting and energizing two days of taking part in the education program of one of our Centers of Excellence.

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Learning in Omaha, teaching in Florida

This past week I attended the Association of Holocaust Organization’s (AHO) annual meeting in Omaha, NE.  In addition to meeting colleagues and exchanging ideas, a highlight of the seminar was Doris Bergen’s lecture on “Holocaust Survivors and Holocaust Scholars: A Changing and Challenging Relationship”. 

Leaving the meeting a day early, on Tuesday, I flew to Tampa, FL with my final destination being the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg.  Tuesday evening three Alfred Lerner Fellows, Larry Grimes, Kinnan Johnston, and Jenieff Watson, made outstanding presentations to the teachers participating in the Florida Holocaust Museum’s teacher’s institute.  On Wednesday morning I met with the teachers and we spent a full morning learning about the rescue of Jews by non-Jews during the Holocaust.  I discussed why the teachers should include a lesson on rescue in their unit of study and how to teach the subject of rescue to their students.  The presentation was followed by excellent questions and great participation. 

At the Florida Holocaust Museum, where I presented on teaching rescue in the classroom.

 

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Gearing up for the Summer Institute

Our annual Summer Institute for Teachers at Columbia University is just a few weeks away, and we are busy preparing for it at the JFR office!  This year we will be welcoming 35 new Lerner Fellows from our Centers of Excellence, The Intergovernmental Task Force, The State Department, the Auschwitz Memorial Museum and the United Nations Outreach Programme.  We will have a new scholar in attendance, Alexandra Zapruder, author of Salvaged Pages, and Sheila Hanson from the Shoah Foundation will be speaking about her work.  We will also have our roster of top-notch scholars that have lectured in years past.  We look forward with great anticipation to our five days of learning and discussion at Columbia University.

Lerner Fellows from SIT 2010

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Thanking our Interns

As the 2010-2011 school year draws to a close, the JFR would like to thank its two high school interns, Shaquira and Camille, both juniors at The High School of Fashion Industries, for all their hard work this past year!  We have so appreciated your help and efforts!  We wish them a wonderful summer.

Shaquira (left) and Camille (right), our high school interns.

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Winning awards

We have some very exciting news regarding our newest documentary, Reunion 2010: Life of My Life.  The film won the Silver Telly, which is the highest Telly film honor, in the categories of History/Biography films and Charitable/Not-for-profit films! It also won the Bronze award for Education!

Wladyslaw Misiuna, rescuer, with Sara Marmurek, one of the five Jewish women he saved. Life of My Life documents their story.

 To purchase Reunion 2010: Life of my Life click here.  To read Wladyslaw Misiuna’s story of rescue, click here.

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Welcoming a survivor

On Wednesday, May 4, 2011 survivor Ursula Selig Lichtblau, who was rescued by Monsignor Beniamino Schivo (click here to read his story of rescue) visited The High School for Law and Public Service and shared her story with 10thgrade students at the school.  Neil Garfinkle, who teaches law, global, and United States history wrote movingly about her visit, saying, “Her [Ursula’s] energy and her passion was something I did not expect, nor could I have ever imagined.  Her stories, sense of humor, and personality, not only won over our entire faculty, Assistant Principal and Principal, but they also had my students riveted to their seats. Everyone in my school is still talking about Ursula and wondering if she will be available next year as well.” 

Ursula (left) with a teacher

 

Ursula with school faculty

 
 
 
 
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Reading notes of gratitude

Here is rescuer Pápai Katalin from Hungary with her grandson, wearing a scarf knitted by Mary Ann Jorgensen. 

We also received a very moving note from Pápai Katalin, sent to Agnieszka Perzan, our Senior Program Associate in Rescuer Support.  The note was written for her by her granddaughter and translated from Hungarian by one of our translators:

Dear Agnieszka Perzan,

My Mother is 92 and she has difficulties to see, therefore I am the one to answer your kind letter.   She was happy to receive the scarf knitted by Mary Ann Jorgensen.   She is very kind to put an effort into making it.   Attached we send the picture we took of her.   We hope she will still have a chance to wear it during the next winter. 

All the best,

Katalin Pápai

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Knitting for Rescuers

The JFR Charity Knitting Project has had tremendous success!  Thanks to our wonderful knitters and crocheters we have sent scarves to 117 rescuers in 7 countries.  Many of the rescuers have sent photos of themselves wearing the scarves.  Below are a few of the most recent photos we have received: 

Stefania Wilkosz-Filo, Poland

Irena Walulewicz, Poland

Reverend Antoni Bradlo, United States (originally from Poland)

 Click here to learn more about the Charity Knitting Project and visit our facebook page to view more photos!

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Observing Holocaust Remembrance Day

On Sunday May 1, Holocaust Remembrance Day, I was the keynote speaker at the State of New Jersey Annual Yom Hashoah Observance Ceremony, which was sponsored in conjunction with the Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County.  The theme of the ceremony, titled “Commemoration of Holocaust & Heroism”, was rescue during the Holocaust.  I spoke about the rescue of Jews during the Holocaust by non-Jews with a focus on rescue in Poland.

It is imperative that each year, when we remember those who perished during the Holocaust, we also remember those few who risked their lives to save others.  Part of never forgetting the Holocaust is keeping alive the legacy of these individuals whose inner compasses led them to selflessly save another human being.

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