I was honored to speak for the Joliet Jewish Congregation's Holocaust Memorial Service on Wednesday, April 18. My thanks go out to Rabbi Chuck Rubovits for the invitation to share with his amazing congregation. They were very receptive about the A BOOK by ME project and that encouraged me a lot. The next morning they invited my husband Don and me back to see a performance by a local school Hufford IE. Their program was called Remember the Children and it was excellent. My congratulations to the students and the teachers for their efforts. There were stringed instruments and the music was outstanding. They worked hard to honor the 1.5 million children who perished in the Holocaust. One of the segments of their performance was powerful when they held photos over their faces and took turns reading the stories of young children who died at the hands of the Nazis. It made the children real to us in the audience. It was extremely powerful and very moving.
After their performance, a Jewish survivor named Ernest Fruehauf from Indiana shared his story with all of us. His memories of Kristallacht (Night of Broken Glass) sent chills up my spine when he told of a mob coming into his family's business (a confectionery shop) and smashing anything of value. The Nazis then took the building from them and turned it into a brewery. His father had been taken to Dachau but miraculously came home after two months. Ernest said he was very thin and very frightened by what he had experienced in the camp. A second miracle happened when their relatives in America were able to get them all visas to come to the USA. Thankfully, his family escaped Europe and were able to re-build their lives here in the states. Ernest really connected with the kids. He is an excellent speaker and really brings home an anti-bullying message. After the event, I spoke with him for a few moments. I was thrilled when he told me he knew my dear friend Esther Katz. In fact,he smiled when he saw my business card has a small picture of her and my other two Esthers on front. Soon it was time for the school children to go back to class and it was a joy to see him giving kids high five as they left the synagogue. I found him to be very approachable and easy to love. Two sisters who were at the event agreed to write and illustrate his story for the next generation through A BOOK by ME. Next week I will be in West Virginia for Holocaust Education month. I will see my dear friend Dr. Edith Levy who is a survivor herself. I'm very excited to be with her and to share with students and teachers. It was amazing to see young people teaching how to respect differences and treat one another the way we wish to be treated. That message is one result of Holocaust Education.