Being the daughter of Holocaust survivors has had a profound influence on my life, even before I knew details of my family's stories. It has shaped my values, educational and career interests, and medical writing.
Legacies of the Holocaust is a wide-ranging blog that will include vignettes and photos of family members not in Resilience; resources for tracing your family's story; news and commentary about the Holocaust, antisemitism, and genocide around the world; reflections on social justice issues; research on recovery after trauma, and strategies to teach tolerance.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by all the people who need help? We’ve been deluged with one disaster after another—from hurricanes to mass shootings to the crisis of migrants seeking asylum. How can we remain compassionate and helpful? Researchers are discovering clues. Northwestern University’s David DeSteno, a psychology professor, uses the example of the Cajun Navy. These are a group of boaters who survived Hurricane Katrina, and then traveled from Louisiana to rescue others during Hurricane Harvey. They’ve also travelled to North Carolina and Florida to rescue people during floods. What motivated them to risk their lives, going back into a dangerous situation, rather than hiding in their current safe homes? Many people who have survived adversity come to believe they might be able to help others, by similarly helping others. The Northwestern researchers call this having a “sense of efficacy.” Most of us might describe it as “paying it…Read More
This week, two principals made the front page of the news for widely different reasons. Their stories raise thought-provoking questions about how the Holocaust should be taught. The first, shocking story was that of Principal William Latson, head of Spanish River High School in Palm Beach, Florida. In 2018, a mother (who preferred to remain unnamed) wrote asking how the Holocaust was being taught. His response? Lessons were “not forced upon individuals as we all have the same rights but not all the same beliefs.” Compounding her shock, Latson continued in an email, “Not everyone believes the Holocaust happened…” “I can’t say the Holocaust is a factual, historical event because I am not in a position to do so as a school district employee.” He added that he personally believes in history. After the subsequent outrage, Latson spent several days at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum (USHMM), but he…Read More
There are so many lessons packed into “Faith, Friendship, and Tragedy at Santa Fe High.” Skip Hollandsworth gifts us with this beautiful, thoughtful written eulogy. Friendships like Sabika and Jaelyn’s don’t come along every day. The Muslim teenager from Pakistan and evangelical Christian girl from small town Texas were inseparable. Until a student opened fire at Santa Fe High School a year ago today. By @skiphol: https://t.co/Owq9BHQpBg — Texas Monthly (@TexasMonthly) May 18, 2019 Faith and Friendship is a heartbreaking read about overcoming religious and ethnic hatreds and the unlikely friendship between two young women. Jaelyn Cogburn is an Evangelical Christian home-schooled in Santa Fe. Her best friend was Sabika Sheikh, a devout Muslim exchange student. There is no small irony that Sabika, wanting to learn about the US in a cross-cultural exchange, left Karachi only to be killed because our country’s love of guns enables murders so readily. What…Read More
This year, Days of Remembrance week was observed April 28 – May 5. The latest synagogue shooting, a hate-filled attack on the last day of Passover, and on the anniversary of the Pittsburgh Tree of Life synagogue shooting, is a stark reminder of why educating about the Holocaust is more important than ever. In this part of the Legacies of the Holocaust, I’ll share brief vignettes about my family. Some survived the Holocaust in Hungary, others did not. Dismayed by the growing antisemitism and racism in the past two years, I immersed myself in Holocaust studies. I promised myself to work on educating about the Holocaust and genocides. During this period, I wrote about my family and the lessons they shared. Their memories and stories are gathered in Resilience: One Family’s Story of Hope and Triumph over Evil. Come meet my family. Mór, the grandfather I never knew This is Mór,…Read More
Since Holocaust Remembrance Week, there has been a variety of news, some good, more not. My aunt Kati (now Kitty Williams) is an Auschwitz survivor. Each year, she has spoken throughout the Omaha region and reached thousands of students with her messages of tolerance and hope. KETV interviewed her and shared this article and clip: KETV didn’t get the title of their article quite right. Kati wasn’t just warning about the rise in antisemitism, but also of the increase in othering and hate crimes in the current political climate. She spoke of the rising tide of hate crimes, and then of her hope that the students will learn from her past and the Holocaust. Her message of the need to come together didn’t reach Arkansas, where a group of white supremacists disrupted a remembrance event in Russell, Arkansas. Sir Beryl Wolfson, a 96-year-old World War II veteran who witnessed…Read More
Although thalidomide, a drug first sold for morning sickness, was released in 1957, the heartbreak from its damage continues and lessons have not yet been learned—including the need for better research and corporate ethics, the need to care for those hurt by an “advance,” and the importance of strong and ethical oversight from government regulators like Frances Kelsey, the FDA reviewer who prevented the birth defects caused by thalidomide from occurring in the United States by blocking its approval. The following article first appeared on the Scientific American website on November 8, 2012. I was attending World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust and Descendants 24th Annual International Conference in Cleveland last week, when my aunt, herself a survivor, handed me a copy of Newsweek with a cover article, “The Nazis and Thalidomide: The Worst Drug Scandal of All Time.” The story was prompted by the…Read More