Letters to Sala

Letters to Sala, a remarkable collection of more than 350 letters and a diary recording the wartime experiences of Nazi work camp survivor Sala Kirschner. Sala kept the collection hidden for years until she revealed them to her daughter, and now they are a permanent part of the New York Public Library’s collection. Sala’s daughter, Ann Kirschner, author of “Sala’s Gift: My Mother’s Holocaust Story,” will be a guest lecturer at the synagogue.

Sunday, March 25, at 7:30 p.m.

Temple Beth Israel, 1175 E. 29th Ave. in Eugene

Read more in a recent article from the Register-Guard.

Portland Trip – Holocaust Survivor, Miriam Greenstein

Friday, March 2nd
Leave THS @ 8:00 am
Return @ 4:00-4:30 pm

Join us for an incredible day in Portland, beginning with the opportunity to hear the testimony of Holocaust survivor, Miriam Greenstein, sack lunches from an amazing Jewish deli, Kenny and Zuke’s, and a visit to the Oregon Holocaust Memorial. Read more about Greenstein, her artwork, and her experiences:

Europe Trip – June 2012

Are you interested in joining a group of students on a June 2012 trip to Germany, Poland, and the Czech Republic?


PARENT MEETING: An EF Tour rep will be available to discuss details specific to the trip, answer parent and student questions, and talk about fundraising ideas.

Monday, September 19th, 2011
6:00 pm – Room #82

Tour Information
Group Leader:  Ginny Hoke
Tour Name:  History: Holocaust in Europe
Departure Date:  Tuesday, Jun 19, 2012
Return Date:  Thursday, Jun 28, 2012
Number of Days:  10
Departure Gateway:  Portland (OR)

Specific details about the trip, including cost, travel dates, and sign-up information can be found here.  Read more about the History: Holocaust in Europe tour.

Holocaust Educators Network – NYC 2011

2011 Holocaust Educators Network from Margo Wixsom on Vimeo.

The day after celebrating July 4th with family and friends, I boarded a plane and headed to New York City to participate in the 2011 Holocaust Educators Network Summer Seminar. After a long flight I arrived at the Memorial Library on 79th Street, and became captivated by the high ceilings and large collection of artwork, only a fragment of what Olga Lengyel once owned I later learned, that filled the home.

Interwoven with time for written, verbal, and silent reflection, has been survivor testimony and the rescuers stories as viewed through the lens of their children’s eyes. We listened intently to Irving Roth, with his brother he worked with horses in one of many Auschwitz work camps and was sent on a death march in the biting, icy winds of January. Alone after the war, he returned home and found his parents who had been hidden by a nurse, one person who chose to resist.

Bronia Brandman, the youngest perhaps to survive in Auschwitz, shared her story. Isolated. Marked. Robbed. Destitute. Thrown out of school. She retraced the direction she took upon arrival- idolized older sister Mila pointed to the right, torn away with her two young sisters on the left, out of instinct Bronia ran to the right. She has a hard time living with this decision now, especially never having said goodbye. Only she and older brother Mendek would survive.

A couple, both children of rescuers, each shared their parent’s history. A popular Hungarian singer, and actress Vali Racz would hide five Jews. Nicolas Winton, largely responsible for saving the lives of more than 600 children with the Czechslovakian Kindertransport, illustrated the concept that one person’s actions can ripple across time and space. The Memorial Library president shared a recent e-mail he received after requesting information about his mother’s experiences in Europe during the Holocaust. In seeking out this history, he found out that his mother, who had only mentioned two camps had actually been in four different camps.

At the Museum of Jewish Heritage near Battery Park with it’s breathtaking, symbolic views of the Statue of Liberty and Ellis Island, we took in the artifacts – photographs, letters, pottery, clothing, a worn bunny rabbit- and the individual stories that each carries with it. We learned about the conditions for Jews in Europe from the last 1800’s through the beginning of World War II.

A morning at the United Nations provided us the opportunity to consider contemporary implications, including a discussion with representatives for the United Nations Holocaust Education Program and the Office on Genocide Prevention. Later in our two weeks together, we discussed research on how students, teachers, and others cope with Holocaust education being conducted by Karen Shawn, Ph.D. at Yeshiva University in New York.

We spent an entire day reflecting on 9/11, the lasting impact and trauma associated with this event rippled through the room as we faced the shadows that loom. Curriculum was presented- from the participants themselves as well as Sondra Perl, Ph.D. and Jennifer Lemberg. Deborah Batiste presented “Echoes and Reflections” integrating testimony into the work.

There was time for celebration, too. Experiencing the rich Jewish cultural religious traditions as we attended Shabbat services at Temple Shaaray Tefila followed by shabbat dinner at the library. As we feasted on chopped liver, challah, chicken, green beans, ruguluch, and fresh fruit, we joined the cantor in the singing of traditional shabbat songs, including the prayer for the children. Another evening we listened to klesmer music performed by a Jewish musical group culminating in us joining hands and dancing the horah around the library. A play, “I Never Saw Another Butterfly”, read aloud- art as a medium for expressing the raw pain, conflicted feelings, and moving forward out of the darkness.

In the midst of our emotional and intellectual inquiry, we enjoyed the city: Broadway shows, amateur night at the Apollo, exploding dumplings at Joe’s Shanghai in Chinatown, meandering walks through Central Park, and an evening sail around the Hudson Harbor for a chance to view Brooklyn, Governor’s Island, the Statue of Liberty, and the Manhattan lights from a different perspective. We spent a day walking through Brooklyn, the afternoon in Coney Island- wading in the ocean, a terrifying ride in the front seat of the Cyclone, ending with dinner at Alice Brazziler’s house- amazing Caesar salad and chicken, followed by an energetic concert by a member of Wu Tang Clan in Prospect Park. Late nights and early mornings, losing ourselves in our inquiries, but also in connecting with each other, building foundations for friendships that will last long after our work here is finished though we may be scattered across this country.

On a sunny Sunday morning, I walked through Central Park to meet Uncle Dave and Aunt Grace for a delicious brunch at Dos Caminos. Later, my cousin Sarah met me at the Memorial Library and we headed via Subway to her place in Brooklyn for an amazing dinner prepared by Grant on the rooftop enjoying the view, time for beyblades with Simeon and Tobias, watching the cats acrobatic feats several stories above the ground, and just relaxing in the midst of all the fast-paced learning that had been happening all through this trip. Layered complexities -what it is to be human.

I packed my suitcase not only with clothing, toiletries, shoes, but also with artifacts. Statue of Liberty illuminated against the fading skyline. A single shoe- all that is left to honor a young boy who died during deportation. A split second decision- two sisters left alone- and the guilt Bronia has carried ever since. A nine-year-old, her black and white dress punctuated by a bold pink bow, voice rising over the thunder of applause at the Apollo. Contrasts.

Next summer when I pack my bags again, this time to journey to Berlin, Auschwitz, Warsaw, Prague- Bronia, Irving, Vali, Nicholas, Chawa, Olga, and so many others- will be there with me.

The Last Album: Eyes from the Ashes

Eugene’s Downtown Initiative for the Visual Arts is pleased to host The Last Album: Eyes From The Ashes of Auschwitz and Birkenau, a unique and important exhibit of cherished personal photographs found carefully packed in the belongings of imprisoned Jewish families.

Picture 1

First Friday Art Walk Reception and official exhibit opening.
280 W. Broadway, Eugene

Dr. Ann Weiss, the daughter of two holocaust survivors, discovered over 2000 photographs at Auschwitz that were brought with individuals and families upon their internment. These beautiful photographs depict their lives before Auschwitz.

The six-week exhibit, its first showing in the Pacific Northwest, will include informative presentations by Dr. Weiss, film screenings and other related program events. Read more about Dr. Weiss and the Last Album project online. DIVA’s exhibit overview outlines the exhibit as presented in Eugene.

Yom Hashoah Remembrance Ceremony

When guest speaker, Joan Bayliss, came to Thurston High School she extended a heartfelt invitation to all students to join her at Temple Beth Israel for the Yom Hashoah Remembrance Ceremony to remember those lost during the Holocaust (or Shoah, in Hebrew).  Details about the ceremony are below.  Directions to the Temple Beth Israel located in Eugene can be found by following this link.

Picture 1

Diary of Anne Frank Performance

Picture 1Picture 2

Friday April 1st, 2011 – 10:15 am – Hult Center, Eugene
Cost: $6 per student (includes bus transportation to the Hult Center)

Mauricio Wainrot’s dramatic contemporary ballet based on The Diary of Anne Frank has received rave reviews throughout the world. The Novosti newspaper of Israel described the audience reaction “….the public was moved and the full auditorium remained silent for a long moment. Then an avalanche of applause followed…” More than a stupendous show that allows you to appreciate the dexterities and qualities of the dancers, Anne Frank displays overwhelming aesthetic and conceptual images against the intolerance and violence of fascism in all its forms.