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News from the 19th Floor – Alfred Lerner Fellows – August 2023

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News from the 19th Floor

Rescuer Stanislawa S. with Stanlee Stahl - 2023 Rescuer Luncheon at POLIN in Warsaw, Poland
Magdalena Sawka decorating Stanlee Stahl with the Pro Patria Medal - 2023 Rescuer Luncheon at POLIN in Warsaw, Poland
Lerner Fellows Sue Kenney, Rhaymen Altagracia-Yunes, and Mindy Walker with rescuer Anna K. and her daughter Katarzyna - 2023 Rescuer Luncheon at POLIN in Warsaw, Poland


The JFR hosted Polish Righteous living in Warsaw on Sunday, July 9, 2023. The luncheon was held at POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The rescuers and their guests were joined by Poland’s Chief Rabbi Michael Schudrich, Israel’s Ambassador to Poland, Dr. Yacov Livne, Deputy Chief of Mission US Embassy, Daniel Lawton, and Magdalena Sawka, representing Jan Kasprzyk, Head of the Office of War Veterans and Victims of Oppression. Click here to see photos from the luncheon.

At the luncheon, the Government of Poland bestowed its Pro Patria Award upon Stanlee Stahl, JFR’s Executive Vice President, for her work in support of Polish rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust and her contributions towards global Holocaust education.  Ms. Stahl’s ceremony marks the first time the award has gone to the leader of an American-Jewish organization. The Pro Patria Medal is a civil state decoration, established in 2011 and awarded by the Head of Poland’s Office for War Veterans and Victims of Oppression. The medal is awarded to mark special merit in strengthening and treasuring the memory of the Polish people’s fight for the independence of the Polish Republic during and following World War II.


The JFR’s 2023 European Study Program to Germany and Poland was both exceptional and exhausting. The design and flow of the study program provided each of us the opportunity to explore and understand different aspects of the Holocaust in greater depth. It was wonderful to have Professor Robert Jan van Pelt as our scholar-in-residence.  We had a terrific group of Alfred Lerner Fellows from Alabama, Florida, New Jersey, Texas, and Ohio.

We met at the Munich airport and proceeded to the center of Munich. We walked from the Feldherrnhalle where the 1923 Putsch was stopped, to the Brown House. We ended our time in Munich at the Munich Documentation Center.  We then went to Dachau and after a long first day, we left for Nuremberg.

In Nuremberg, we visited Court Room 600, which opened early for our group. We then visited the Nuremberg Documentation Center and the Zeppelinfeld. We traveled to Weimar and spent time at Buchenwald.  We left the next day for Berlin.  In Berlin, we went to a number of memorials and visited the Museum of Photography to view the Yad Vashem Exhibition “Flashes of Memory, Photography in the Holocaust,” which was excellent.  We ended our time in Berlin at the Jewish Museum and then took the afternoon train to Warsaw.

In Warsaw, we visited sites from the Holocaust, went to POLIN Museum of the History of Polish Jews, and met with Marian Turski, Chairman of the Board of POLIN.  We went to Tykocin and Treblinka.

A highlight of the study program was the luncheon the JFR hosted for Polish Righteous living in Warsaw.  The luncheon was held on Sunday, July 9, 2023, at POLIN.  It was wonderful to see the rescuers again.

We left Warsaw to visit Majdanek. Following our time at Majdanek, we then travelled to Oswiecim (Auschwitz, Poland). This permitted us to spend several days visiting Auschwitz and Birkenau.  We ended our time in Poland in Krakow.

Throughout our time in Europe, Professor van Pelt gave lectures on subjects ranging from Holocaust historiography, specific to the site we were visiting, to the history of the Holy Roman Empire, to the Austro-Hungarian Empire, to looted Jewish art.  Professor van Pelt was outstanding.

Courtroom 600 in Nuremberg, Germany
Lerner Fellows with Professor Robert Jan van Pelt at Zeppelinfeld
Dr. Steven Field leading Kaddish at Buchenwald
Brandenberg Gate in Berlin, Germany
Lerner Fellows in Warsaw
Margita L., Slovakia


In July, awards were sent to each JFR-supported rescuer.  We would like to share some of the photos and notes we received – click here to see them.  They thank you for remembering them and for making their lives easier with the financial help they receive from the JFR.


We have been speaking with Lerner Fellows throughout the summer to learn what their plans are for their Holocaust unit. As expected, plans are varied.  A key factor is the length of time each teacher has to spend on the Holocaust.  Some have a yearlong elective; others teach the Holocaust for five days.  Please let us know your plans for your Holocaust unit.

The 2023 Summer Institute for Teachers


Joan Stark, who was born in 1933 in Wurzberg, Germany, died on July 28, 2023.  Joan lived in New Jersey.  In 2007, Joan Stark and her sister, Kate Tarnofsky, established the Eduard Sonder Family Memorial Fund.  The fund serves as a living memorial to their grandfather, Eduard Sonder, and the other members of the family who perished during the Holocaust.  The Eduard Sonder Family Memorial Fund provides a full scholarship for a teacher to attend the JFR’s Summer Institute for Teachers.  Jennifer Reeder, of Grain Valley, MO, was the recipient of the 2023 Eduard Sonder Family Award.  Joan is survived by her two sons, Marc and Jonathan, her sister, Kate, and two grandchildren.  May Joan’s memory be a blessing.


Usher in the New Year while at the same time supporting the work of The Jewish Foundation for the Righteous by sending a JFR eCard. Click here to schedule your eCards now! Rosh Hashanah starts Friday night, September 15, 2023.

Jewish New Year eCard
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