College Park High School, Pleasant Hill, CA – May 11, 2023

by George J Elbaum

College Park High School is a highly rated public school with a current enrollment of 2050 students of which 60% are minority, 23% are economically disadvantaged, 10% are first-generation college students, and 6.1% are English Language learners.  Despite these demographics, College Park is far above California state averages of college and career readiness, such as student test scores (reading 74% vs. 51% CA average and Math 48% vs. 40% CA average) and has 97% graduation rate.  It is therefore rated by as A for diversity and A- overall, also for college preparedness.

This presentation to College Park, my 5th since 2019, was to the entire sophomore class (350 to 400 students) and was again organized by World History teacher Lauren Weaver, as she had done each year since 2019. Her students have studied WWII and the Holocaust, so were therefore aware of governmental persecution in Germany in the 1930s, including anti-Sematic policies and hate crimes, targeted boycotts, the Nuremberg laws, book burnings, Kristallnacht, forced relocations to the ghettos, deportations, and death camps under the “final solution”.

 My presentation once again was via Zoom because of my continuing medical restrictions, so unfortunately there was little real-time feedback which I’ve missed for the last 3 years.  However I fully expect that next year I will be able to return to College Park and Lauren Weaver’s class in person.

Arrangements for this talk at College Park were made by Sadie Simon, Education Program Manager of JFCS Holocaust Center.

Notes from Students

Two days after this visit to College Park High School the teacher Lauren Weaver emailed me 10 pages of “Thank you” notes from her students.  Scanning the notes on the first page I was instantly impressed by the students’ personal thoughts and feelings expressed there, so the next day my wife Mimi and I read these together and excerpted the statements that most resonated with us. The list is long, and the excerpts below are impressive – they speak to me of excellent students and excellent teacher.

  • In this time of heightened political tensions regarding race, religion, and other minority identities, it is extremely important to listen to the first hand stories of those who have survived tragedies centered around their identity, like the Holocaust.
  • As both a racial and a romantic minority, it truly meant a lot to hear you talk about what you’d been through as sometimes I fear that that’s where America is heading, but when people are reminded of the horrors of the Holocaust I feel as though they’re more likely to be open-minded.
  • I especially liked when you mentioned seeing the plane through the hole in the shed, as the concept of finding beauty in a terrible situation is something that I can relate to very well. There was a moment in my life where I witnessed something truly awe-inspiring during a very traumatic event, and I’ve been fascinated with that object since. So hearing that you had a similar story really made me feel a connection.
  • Thank you for answering my question about antisemitism being on the rise, as I do agree that we have fostered an environment where people feel more comfortable to voice their prejudices and therefore feel like it’s their right to spew hate against groups they view as lesser.  Once again, thank you so much for speaking with our class. I will remember this experience for the rest of my life.
  • I would like to sincerely thank you for sharing your story and your experience in one of the most difficult situations to live through in human history.  I identify with your viewpoints heavily and admire your general attitude and resilience to antisemitism and other forms of hate
  • In a way you remind me of myself and as a Jewish American who grew up not knowing his roots that well I felt empowered hearing your speech.  I sometimes feel ostracized or like having to choose between being perceived as Jewish and risking hate from others or being perceived as Protestant and assimilating into being a “white American”.
  • I’d like to say, in the most sincere way possible, thank you. People like us will learn from this experience of pure survival and instinct, meaning that everyday could be your last. You are a teacher, a model, and a person of luck.
  • I find it very inspiring that you overcame your fear of telling your story publicly, and I’m grateful that we got the chance to hear about your experiences.  With deep respect…
  • I found it interesting to hear how the younger you thought that because you broke your leg you would need it cut off because you saw soldiers with lost limbs and assumed it was the same.  I too would’ve thought the same thing if I was in the same situation as you.
  • Your presentation made me realize that you can’t give up.
  • Thank you for taking the time to tell us your life story. I will never have a way to make up the favor, but I can however continue telling others of your story.
  • It is nice to know that you no longer feel belittled by your past and continue to pass on your life story, because if people like you stayed quiet, then history would be forgotten and be doomed to be repeated.
  • Being able to go through something so big as a child must be terrifying. When you said that you saw your mother after six months, it made me realize how lost you must’ve felt at that time. I appreciate your time, and you’re so strong for going through this unfortunate event.
  • I’ve read a lot of books and I’ve learned extensively about the Holocaust throughout my life but I’ve never heard someone’s first hand account in person.
  • Thank you for teaching us about tolerance and compassion towards others.
  • I never really wanted to think that little kids went through it, but they did. And hearing you talk about it made me really realize it
  • When you asked if we’d take in a child even if it put our own lives at risk, without a hesitation I answered yes. I answered yes because there is the chance to save a small child, an innocent life.
  • When it came to segregation in America, when you talked about what happened when you went to the back of the bus, it was very eye opening and I really appreciated it.
  • Thank you for making a difference by letting your story be known
  • The most memorable details that I took from your story is the first plane you saw in the dark shed. It was almost like the light at the end of the tunnel that made your story come full circle after choosing to study Aerospace Engineering.  It also inspired me how to prove your high school counselor wrong by getting into MIT and studying there. I strive to be as brave and courageous as you when I’m older.
  • Thank you for being able to share such terrifying and traumatizing times with us.
  • Sometimes I forget to stop and think about how fortunate I am to not have to worry about war occurring or being hunted or searched for in the middle of the night.
  • I’m very grateful that I got to temporarily experience a day of life in the Holocaust through your eyes.
  • That part of your story (about luck) really moved me in a way I’m not certain how to express, but it helped me to understand more about the Holocaust and how so much of survival really was based around pure luck.
  • Before your presentation I had never really thought about how people survived outside of concentration camps.
  • Thank you for your bravery, to speak up about what you experienced is not an easy task. The way you keep doing this throughout your life, you keep going and never give up, inspires me to work harder.
  • The information you shared with us made me realize how cruel a human can be to one another just because they dislike their religion.    So glad you made it out alive!
  • Thank you for being able to talk to us and allowing us to properly visualize the atrocities that occurred.
  • Thank you very much for sharing your story. I really found it interesting and it actually touched me in a way that makes me feel kind of guilty for all the times that I thought my life was terrible because I didn’t like something that happened or because of someone that did something that I didn’t like, because there are always more people around the world like you that suffered through horrific times.
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Methuen High School, Methuen, MA – May 4, 2023

by George J Elbaum

Methuen High School (MHS) is a public secondary school serving grades 9-12.  It has an enrollment of 1950, of which 48% is minority and 47% from low-income families.  The Holocaust is taught at MHS as part of English Department studies by teacher Jackie Rubino, who organized my presentation at MHS and uses educational materials from Facing History and Ourselves and other sources.  This was my 4th visit to MHS, and 60 of its 9th– 12th grade students were gathered for my talk in 3 classrooms plus attendance via Zoom.  As last year, the students have already studied much of the Holocaust and Human Behavior book from Facing History, Schindler’s List, selections from the The World Must Know, Elie Wiesel’s Night, plus supplemental materials.

As in past years, I was pleasantly surprised by the quality of the students’ questions, and some of their most thoughtful ones about my feelings, hopes, and concerns.  I’ve long felt that the Q&A is often the most important part of my talks because it represents our 2-way communication, and I was again pleased with today’s session, especially by one “give and thou shall receive” situation.  As frequently during my 360+ talks to date, I was asked how did the Holocaust shape my life, and my answer was the usual, that it is contained inthe title of my book, “Neither Yesterdays Nor Tomorrows“.  “The reason for “Neither Yesterdays” is that some of the families who kept me, and thus saved me, were nevertheless not always nice to me, so my wartime yesterdays were not very pleasant and I learned instinctively not to think about my past and to quickly forget it.  The reason for “Nor Tomorrows” is that my tomorrows were very uncertain: I never knew when or even whether I would see my mother again. I therefore learned not to look to the past nor to the future, but rather to focus totally on the present, to survive it (then) and to solve whatever needs to be solved (now). That attitude has remained with me and has served me well.”

Above is how I have answered this question in past situations, but this time it occurred to me that teacher Jackie Rubino is also an enthusiastic coach of MHS girls softball team, and her whole team was in attendance, so I added especially for them: “So when you are at bat, don’t think about what you did in the past or what you might do in the future, but focus totally on the ball that’s coming toward you right now, and smash it.”  The softball team let out a big cheer!  This was surely the talk’s highlight for them, and it was for me also!**

The MHS teachers attending this presentation, in addition to Jackie Rubino, were Jason Smith, Dan Favreau, Aaron Romano-Meade, Jacob Aronson, MHS Principal Richard Barden and English Department Chair Lisa Golobski-Twomey.  My participation in today’s event was again arranged by Jeff Smith of Facing History and Ourselves.

**Two days after our talk I received the following email from Jackie Rubino: “Big game last night AND we had a HUGE win!  I’ve included an awesome team picture with this email. Before the game we talked about your words of wisdom and how we needed to carry them on the field. You inspired them so much! It was their best game of the season so far.” 

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Open Window School, Bellevue, WA – April 25, 2023

by George J Elbaum

Open WindowSchool  (OWS) is an independent school for students in Kindergarten through 8th grade who have been formally identified as intellectually gifted.  The school’s mission is to nurture and inspire students of high intellectual ability. Its current enrollment is 355 students, of which 140 students are in grades 5 thru 8.

My presentation was organized by humanities teacher Arren Ellingson for 41 7th graders. This study unit is designed for students to understand the causes of the Holocaust and explain the horrific events that occurred. Beginning with a study of the history of anti-Semitism in Europe, students come to understand how racism fueled the events to come. The students were provided a history of Germany after WWI, including how the Nazis came to power and Hitler’s racist ideology, how Jews were systematically targeted, the Nuremburg laws, Kristallnacht, life and death in ghettos, concentration camps, and Jewish life after liberation.  

The Q&A session following the talk showed the students’ preparation and genuine engagement – having so many students asking questions was an encouraging thing to witness.  Following the Q&A session teacher Ellingson informed me of their tradition that following presentations by visiting speakers the students are given an opportunity to comment and thank the speaker for what they learned from the presentation.  Several students took this opportunity, came to the microphone and individually expressed their “thank-you’s” – a very nice and gratifying tradition.   

This was my 2nd visit to OWS, the first one being exactly a year ago (4/22/2022).   Attending the current presentation in addition to teacher Arren Ellingson were also OWS teachers Michelle Bowers, Marcelo Sanjines and Clarissa Toupin.  My involvement was arranged by Lexi Jason, Education Program Manager, Holocaust Center for Humanity, with technical support from volunteer Liz Ebersole.   


Temple Israel, Boston, MA – April 10, 2023

by George J Elbaum

Temple Israel is the second oldest congregation in the Boston area, and the largest Reform congregation in New England. Founded in 1854 in Boston, its long history follows the rise of the local Jewish community. The Temple Israel Archives serves as the repository for records, documents, publications, and images relating to the history and administration of Temple Adath Israel of Boston. These records document the congregational history and provide primary source material to assist the clergy, staff, and members of the synagogue. 

Although Yom Hashoah falls on April 18 this year, the 18th falls during the April 2023 school spring break in Massachusetts so the Temple scheduled its commemoration ceremony another day, in this case for the 10th,, so students and their parents could attend it, and I was invited to participate in this ceremony and tell my story of surviving the Warsaw Ghetto and the Holocaust.  (I welcomed speaking on April 10 as it is a memorable date for me: it was the date of Yom Hashoah in 2010 when I gave my very first talk about my Holocaust childhood at the ceremony organized by MIT, my alma mater, at the Holocaust Memorial in downtown Boston.) 

Today’s ceremony at Temple Israel was attended by approximately 90 synagogue members, guests and children, with people joining both online and onsite.  The evening started with a memorial service led by the Temple’s clergy, then transitioned to my presentation followed by a Q&A. 

My presentation was organized by Brigid Goggin, Director of Programs and Community Engagement, and Roberta (Bergstein) Axeloons, Director of Elementary Education, and my participation was arranged by Jeff Smith of Facing History and Ourselves.

Notes from students

Five weeks after my talk at Temple Israel I received in the mail an envelope containing a dozen brief notes handwritten on blank paper from students attending the event, some with small decorations such as the Star of David and signed with the student’s name and “7th grade, Temple Israel.”  One note in particular truly impressed me with its power and that student’s sensitivity and awareness of what’s important, all encapsulated in the note’s first and last sentences:

“Thank you for being able to retell and share your story……. Thank you for never giving up, never collapsing in a dangerous situation and impossible time, but most of all, thank you for never forgetting.”

Temple Israel, Boston

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Natick High School, Natick, MA – March 28, 2023

by George J Elbaum

Natick High School is an urban/suburban public high school serving 1626 students in grades 9–12.  Per Public School Review, it rates in the top 10% in Massachusetts in overall academic performance in standardized test scores (Math and Reading/Language) and top 5% in Graduation Rate. 

 The school also has a strong arts program: in drama it produces two full-length plays each year; it has an award-winning speech and debate team that won the Massachusetts Forensic League State Championship and has had multiple state and national champions; its music program provides students with a rich selection of vocal and instrumental ensembles including Concert Choir and Symphonic Band that have won gold medals in state competition. 

This was my third presentation at Natick High School (also on 4/5/2019 and 5/5/2022), organized again by Social Studies teacher Justin Voldman for students from his Genocide and Human Rights class and from Child Development class of teacher Rebecca Pandolfo, who attended the session with her students and participated actively in the Q & A.  Also present were students from teacher Mackenzie Morgan’s Global Awareness class.  Good preparation of the students was evident by their thoughtful questions during an active Q & A, which is my favorite part of most talks.  

(Attending also was Justin Voldman’s father-in-law, Stephen Katz, who, as serendipity would have it, had been a pharmacist at the Community Hospital in Forest Grove, OR, where I lived and attended high school.)  

My talk was arranged by Jeff Smith of Facing History and Ourselves.  

Notes from Students

Three days after this visit to Natick High School teacher Rebecca Pandolfo emailed me a dozen “Thank you” notes from her students.  My wife Mimi and I read these together and excerpted the statements that resonated with us.  These excerpts are listed below.

  • Throughout the discussion you were able to convey a series of complex and deep emotions that brought a personal view into history.
  • The courage that it took to share these memories and experiences encourages all of us to do more for our community and to use our past as a way to teach others.
  • It was really interesting to hear about how you were inspired to share your story after so many years of keeping the memories inside of your head.
  • It was really interesting to hear how some of the families treated you poorly but how you are still extremely grateful because they saved you.
  • Hearing that you were able to live a life that you found joy in despite the trauma of your youth was very powerful to me, especially because you pursued your lifelong dream of aviation and science.
  • I felt very motivated after hearing you talk.
  • Hearing about how you were able to move on from your past and create such an amazing future for yourself made me feel more optimistic, which is so important to recognize, as it helps create a better life! 🙂
  • One thing I will carry with me for the rest of my life is not worrying about “neither yesterday nor tomorrow”. I really need to listen to this advice and apply it to my routine. Sometimes I get so overwhelmed with actions and attitudes from the past and so anxious for the future that I end up not enjoying the present with my family and friends.
  • You have taught us to never give up.
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Holocaust Center for Humanity Survivor Encyclopedia, Seattle, WA – March 10, 2023

by George J Elbaum

The Holocaust Center for Humanity Survivor Encyclopedia project features survivors and eye-witnesses who live or have lived in Washington State.  They challenge us to understand history through personal narrative – to see complex human beings behind the facts. Their stories inspire us to recognize human fragility and resilience and the difference that each one of us can make.

The Survivor Encyclopedia is an ongoing project, so new entries are continually being added.  Whereas I do not live in Washington State, my son does and therefore I’ve been a frequent visitor for 25 years.  In fact, it was on a visit to the Holocaust Center (under its previous name) in 2010 that I first learned the guiding principle for my talks: the audience should be old enough to understand, yet young enough to have an open mind.  It was also the Holocaust Center that arranged my very first talks in high schools (Seattle’s Alternative School No.1 and Tacoma’s Charles Wright Academy) in October 2010, and has been arranging my talks ever since for my visits to Seattle.  It was therefore not surprising that the Holocaust Center asked me to give my testimony for its Survivors Encyclopedia, and March 10, 2023 I experienced a 4-hour emotional roller coaster ride across my Holocaust childhood and the subsequent post-war years.  My gentle expert interviewer was Marcy Bloom, with Domenick Dellino providing the audio-visual recording.

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Sebastian Questa Elementary, Mountain House, CA – March 8, 2023

by George J Elbaum

Sebastian Questa Elementary is a public elementary school K-8 with current enrollment of 843 students of very high diversity: 43% Asian, 16% White, 14% Hispanic, 11% Filipino, 7% Black, and 9% all other.  The school’s academic performance is also very high, earning ratings of 9 (out of 10) for test scores: English 73% vs. 47% State Average, Math 67% vs. 33%, and Science 53% vs.29%.  Also high is the students’ participation in advanced courses (algebra) of 25% vs. <1% State Average.

My presentation was to 100 students in 8th grade English and History organized by ELA teacher Shannon Reed.  In preparation for the Holocaust study the students first completed a background project on Hitler and the progression of events leading to WWII. Then they did a comparative lesson on The Diary of Anne Frank play and her actual journal through the book. This was followed by a review of The Butterfly Project and research on the Nazi concentration camps. The students’ extensive reading was organized in a very efficient and effective way: the whole class read The Diary of Anne Frank and, in addition, they were organized into 7 groups with each group reading one of the following 7 books: Anne Frank: Beyond the Diary, Between Shades of Grey, Grenade, Prisoner B3087, The Boy on the Wooden Box, The Book Thief  and The War Outside.  Then each of the 7 group would make an oral presentation of the book they had read to the rest of the class. In addition, they reviewed the films Genocide and Anne Frank: Parallel Lives. 

In addition to Shannon Reed, the presentation was also attended by Principal George Vierra, Vice Principal Kimberly Clegg, and 8th grade teachers Louis Rivera and Erin Healy.  My talk was arranged by Sadie Simon, Education Program Manager, JFCS Holocaust Center, who introduced me and ably managed my PowerPoint.

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Twin Falls Middle School, North Bend, WA – February 27, 2023

by George J Elbaum

Twin Falls Middle School, located in the foothills of the Cascade Mountains with an enrollment of 850 students in grades 6-8, considers its mission as being based on “Relationships, Rigor and Relevance” as a “professional learning community which provides instruction for all levels of learners.”  Twin Falls MS has a high academic record, with student proficiency in English of 76% vs. state average of 60%, in Math 77% vs. 50% state average, and in Science 72% vs. 52% state average.  This is reflected in its Great Schools’ overall rating of 7 out of 10 and 9 out of 10 for Test Scores.  School events which encourage learning include Distinguished Honor Recognition evening for parents and students, and participation in curricular fairs showcasing art, science, and social studies.  The Science Fair involved 100% of Twin Falls students.

Twin Falls MS is using materials and speakers from Seattle’s Holocaust Center for Humanity to introduce its 8th grade students to the topic of the Holocaust, including reading Elie Wiesel’s Night and The Diary of Anne Frank.  I believe this week was similar to the last week in January 2021 when all 8th grade students participated in one of 5 sessions, each with a different speaker from the Holocaust Center, and I was one of these speakers.  The 2021 program was organized by teacher Karen Waters, as was the current year’s program and my presentation on 2/27/2023.  However, after that date all my subsequent efforts to communicate with the school were unanswered, so unlike 2 years ago, this paragraph will remain unfinished. 

The Holocaust Center’s support for my presentation was provided by Lexi Jason, Education Program Manager, and technical support with Zoom and PowerPoint was provided by the Holocaust Center’s volunteer Jeff Greenberg. 

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Thornton High School, Daly City, CA – February 15, 2023

by George J Elbaum

Thornton High School is a public, alternative school with current attendance of 104 students, primarily in grades 11-12, of which 91% are minority and 45% are economically disadvantaged.  The school’s program is designed to provide the opportunity for its students to earn academic credits and meet the requirements for a high school diploma.  In a broader sense, Thornton’s mission is to build an educational community which would reintegrate at-promise students into educational, social and community activities and to develop feelings of self-worth, tolerance and community awareness, thus becoming productive and responsible citizens.  To foster community involvement, for example, students must complete at least 75 hours of community service and earn elective credits.  Students are referred to Thornton for a variety of reasons; each has his or her own story on what obstacle(s) got in the way of staying on credit track to graduate on time. With collaboration between the students themselves, families, staff, and community, the majority thrive at Thornton and earn enough credits to graduate on time. Several even end up graduating early, helped by smaller class sizes, increased teacher-student-family contact, individualized instruction, and the ability to earn credit in a variety of ways.

This was my fourth talk at Thornton and the second since Covid-19 constrained personal interaction, so regretfully it was once again via video.  As before, the talk was arranged and organized by English teacher Fernanda Morales for 11th and 12th grade students.  I very much hope that, despite my immuno-compromised condition, I will be able to return to Thornton next year in person rather than via video, and thus be able to interact directly with Fernanda and her students. 

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The Bay School, San Francisco, CA – February 13, 2023

by George J Elbaum

Founded in 2004, The Bay School (Bay) is an independent, coeducational college preparatory high school in the Presidio of San Francisco, and ranks among the top 20% of private schools in California.  With 374 students in grades 9 through 12, Bay balances challenging academics and innovative thinking with a mindful approach to learning and life – its goal is to see students unlock their individual and collective potential so they begin to realize their roles in a dynamic world.   Bay believes that a broad range of perspectives and experiences play a crucial role in achieving its educational mission, thus it intentionally recruits students and teachers from diverse cultural, racial, economic and geographic backgrounds.

Emphasizing depth of content, Bay’s curriculum focuses on problem solving, promotes critical thinking and encourages students to connect academic study with their extracurricular lives. Bay’s 9th and 10th grade courses build a broad foundation of basic skills, focusing on the relationships among traditional academic disciplines. Students’ interests and talents increasingly drive the academic program in 11th and 12th grade.

This was my 5th visit to The Bay School since April 2017, my first in-person presentation after 88 talks via Zoom since the start of the Covid pandemic, and it was again organized by Humanities teacher Hannah Wagner.  The audience of approximately 200 was comprised of 100 students in 10th-grade Humanities class plus 100 guests from the students’ families and the larger community.  The students will have recently studied the aftermath of WWI and the Treaty of Versailles, and will follow my presentation with a two-month study of WWII and the Holocaust, including an in-depth look at how Hitler rose to power, the authoritarianism of the 1930s, and undertake WWII research projects, some of which involve learning about the Holocaust in depth through primary source analysis.   

My talk was arranged by Sadie Simon, Education Program Manager, JFCS Holocaust Center.

Letters from Students

Shortly after this visit to The Bay School, my first in-person presentation after 3 years of Covid and 88 talks via Zoom, I received a large envelope with 77 notes & letters from the students, including two drawings: one “thank you” that was striking in its elegant simplicity of stars and : ), and one sketch of me in the shed (see below after the photos).  However, a busy schedule kept me from reading these notes & letters for over a month till a couple days ago as together with my wife Mimi we read them all and excerpted those statements that truly resonated with us.  These excerpts are listed below.  I thank you, Bay students, for your notes & letters, your thoughts, and your “thank you’s” – they make me feel that I am making a difference.

  • I was reminded to live on my own terms.  In my short life I have had the misfortune of experiencing much pain.  Sometimes it’s difficult not to give up.  However, seeing you go through the worst there is, I feel hope.
  • Your strength and willingness to share about the Holocaust to the younger generation is very inspiring.
  • We all felt inspired by your resilience and perseverance, and see you as a role model for ambition and strength.
  • Your message about being an upstander was especially meaningful to me.
  • Thank you for visiting and for your vulnerability & powerful narrative.
  • I am a second generation immigrant and listening to your story helped me better understand the struggle of having to leave a place and start again.
  • Your words and stories of your first hand experiences painted a very human picture of the war.
  • I found myself very moved by your message of perseverance in the face of oppression.
  • I am gay, and even in San Francisco I have faced much hate.
  • Much like you, airplanes fascinate me and one day I would like to soar across the sky in one.
  • My great-grandparents died in the Holocaust, and my mom chose not to raise my brothers and me Jewish, so I never fully understood the trauma behind it and what they went through.
  • It is so easy to disconnect yourself from these events in the past and just simply view them as ancient history and plots for movies.  But to see someone who could easily have pictured myself to be, just in a different time period, was really amazing.  Thank you.
  • Thank you so much for sharing your journey.
  • In the future, I want to approach life the way you do, and continue living life to the fullest.
  • I struggle to stay positive, and I hope that when I feel down I can think of you and remember the beauty in life.
  •  I hope you continue to change lives.
  • I tend to be stuck in the past or the future, as well as a pessimist by nature, but what you talked about has helped give me a new outlook on how to deal with my own experiences.
  • I was especially touched by how you had to hide in silence away from family, as my great-grandmother had to do a similar thing.
  • The fact that you are willing to share your life’s story with people is incredible, and you have no idea how appreciative people are to hear you.
  • PS: I wish Covid wasn’t a thing so I could have given you a hug.
  • I was so impressed that even though you grew up in those conditions you could still have a good attitude about it, and I am so glad that all the people who said that you could never do anting with your life were so wrong.
  • (Re your baseball story) I know it’s embarrassing to be so sure of something and then to be wrong.  I think it’s funny to look back on moments like that.
  • Your entire story gave me hope for not only for my life but for humanity.
  • Thank you for allowing us to see a different perspective on these events, and for being more personal than a documentary or video.  I really felt connected.
  • I was especially struck by your mention of the sugar cube, and how something so small can have so much meaning.
  • I’ve read a lot and learned a lot about the Holocaust before, but hearing you tell us what it was like for you personally really gave me a better idea of how it was.
  • Your story really gave me a fresh view of the Holocaust, and it felt a lot more powerful and authentic hearing it from someone who was part of it.
  • Your optimism and passion made me feel empowered to continue to pursue my passions like animation and music.
  • I was inspired by how you chased your dreams of studying engineering and piloting.  It taught me to follow my dreams in life even if they seem unreachable.
  • You inspired me to continue working towards my goals and to never doubt myself.
  • Your story is ever so much more human than any Wikipedia article or history book I read.
  • I found your optimistic outlook on life extremely inspiring, and I loved the stories you told.
  • In my life I have touched what happened during the Holocaust though never this close, and I once again thank you for opening my mind to the more personal effects something like the Holocaust can have on a person.
  • It was so interesting and so powerful, and I know I learned so much.  You have so much wisdom and I’m glad we got to hear some of it.
  • I have learned about the Holocaust many times, but your story was the most personal and most memorable.  I also watched the Paperclips film and it was great.
  • I really appreciate that you’ve shared your story about 350 times.  I’m quite surprised you haven’t grown tired of speaking, but I’m glad you haven’t.
  • My entire family who remained in Europe (near Lviv) were killed by the Nazis and we knew very little what happened. It is always fascinating to hear others’ stories, as we can have a better idea of what could have happened to them.
  • I was struck by your mother’s resilience and love.
  • The part of the presentation where you asked the audience if they would theoretically take you in was incredibly thought-provoking and stuck with many people.
  • You taught me to believe in myself and to not take opportunities for granted.
  • I’m writing this on Friday as I am still thinking about your moving testimony.
  • My great-grandfather was in a similar situation as your mother, as he was only kept alive to make Nazi uniforms.
  • I really appreciated the message you gave us, to persevere and adapt through hardship, and to follow your dreams.  I will take your advice with me as I face challenges in my own life.
  • I was taken aback by your bravery and your mother’s determination.
  • I felt so inspired by your perseverance throughout your life and was moved by your mother’s sacrifice in order to keep you safe.  I learned so much in that short amount of time.  Thank you again!
  • I admire your ability to be an optimist, even in the darkest of times, and your ability to focus on today and not tomorrow.
  • I will probably remember your speech for the rest of my life.
  • I am going to try to live in the moment and avoid worrying about yesterdays and tomorrows. 
  • I wish you the best and I hope your wife will let you eat dessert for dinner 😊
  • Being Jewish myself I have ancestry that shares some of the things you experienced, however I never got to hear their stories first hand so I am truly grateful for your testimony.
  • I particularly enjoyed the lesson behind it that you need to focus on being for rather than against, and standing up for what is right.
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