Thursday, April 9, 2015

The first time I heard a Holocaust survivor tell their story.

 I have heard many Holocaust survivors tell their stories.  When I toured the Holocaust Museum in Skokie I recognized many of the survivors because I had heard them speak over the years.  I thought back and realized that the first time I heard a Holocaust survivor was at the University of Michigan and it was my friend, Daniel Derman's mother, Lisa Derman.
Lisa in Chicago after the war

The year was 1978 and I was a freshman. Holocaust survivors were not speaking like they do today and  it was the first time that Lisa had told her story of escaping Poland and fighting in the Resistance.  It was a lecture hall of over 100 students in a Jewish history class and while she spoke the room was silent as we listened to her unbelievable story.  She always ended her talks with hope and telling her audience how many families members there were now since she and Aron, her husband had survived.

 I had a personal nrelationship with Aron and Lisa and heard many of their stories over dinner, visits and speaking at different educational opportunities.  I cherish all of those memories and stories.  No matter how many times I heard the stories I would be in tears by the time they finished.  Lisa was the master storyteller but I don't think I can recall a time I saw her that Aron did not shout out from the audience to add a fact or perhaps correct her.  Lisa and Aron are gone but their stories still live.  Check out their story and hear their voices yourself.  Listening to the videos are very comforting and it is hard to believe they can't come to Lakeside and tell their story in person.  A few years ago their son Daniel came to Lakeside to start the second generation telling of the story.  The sanctuary was very crowded and like when Aron and Lisa told their story the room was silent listening.  Telling stories couldn't be more important, whether you were in the Holocaust, live in Israel, or are from the south side of Chicago or Highland Park.
Dr. Daniel Derman, 2nd generation

I realized early on as an educator that my students would be the last generation who would be able to meet Holocaust survivors in person and hear them speak.  I work hard to bring speakers to Lakeside Congregation for our students, parents and Adult Enrichment participants.

This Sunday, April 12 at 10:00 am we have the opportunity to hear the story of Estelle Laughlin at Lakeside.  Grades 6-10, their parents, congregants and anyone in the community is invited to come and hear her speak.  I know this will be a meaningful program and we will begin the morning with T'filah; remembering those that perished in the Holocaust.  I look forward to hearing Estelle's story and she will be signing her book, Transcending Darkness after she speaks. I know that Estelle also has hope as she tells her story.   There are many stories of the Holocaust and we are fortunate to hear Estelle's this week.
Estelle Laughlin