I had lived in Forest Hills, New York for 40 years and I had never been asked to share my life story, with students or adults. Like many other Holocaust survivors, I was focused on adjusting to a new life in a new country. I had a full time job until the age of 73, and then I left New York for Oregon.
I have never been able to bring down an iron curtain on my past. For me, the horrific memories from the Holocaust are still fresh. The ashes I rose from are still smoldering. I am tormented by memories even as I try to carry on with my life. I am crying in silence, I am still in pain, I am draped in sadness. While grieving I am also somewhat healed. Most members, of my extended family, had passed away but their love will stay and our relationship will never end, because love is not mortal.. The warmth that permeated our family is the anchor that I hang on to. The Holocaust is a ghastly and repulsive historical nightmare. Not all physical and mental scars can be completely healed with passing years; some extend through time. However, I can not let grief immobilize me.
I realize that it is beyond the understanding of most people to fathom the horror and dread that I have witnessed and endured. The Holocaust is indeed beyond comprehension. My tribulations during the Holocaust are so removed from people’s daily lives that those horrors sound unbelievable to them.
In April 2000, I moved to Hillsboro Oregon. I met a Holocaust survivor who urged me to join the Oregon Holocaust Resource Center (OHRC). I did, and became a member of the OHRC “Speakers Bureau.” The Speakers share their Holocaust experiences with young students and adults, in the State of Oregon and Washington.
I have always been self conscious of my limited vocabulary, my foreign accent and my flawed diction. Had I been well versed in the English language I would still feel uncomfortable to address audiences. However, I was coaxed by the coordinator of OHRC to give a try, and I made my first presentation, in December 2000, at Century High School, Hillsboro.
Since then, I have shared my life story with over 800 audiences. Most of my listeners have been quite respectful, sympathetic, as reflected in their faces, sometimes with outrage and often with tears. They are captivated, in their rapt attentiveness. The appreciation for my implicit and explicit messages is reflected in their verbal and written responses. I am very pleased when told by teachers that my presentation had inspired even the most fidgety students.