In the Fall of 2009, Sharon Halperin and I met for the first time, thanks to the efforts of a friend in common. Our mutual friend realized that Sharon and I were both daughters of Holocaust survivors. At our first meeting, I told Sharon about my lifelong efforts to find my mother and father's missing family members, and Sharon told me about her work keeping the lessons of the Holocaust alive. For years, Sharon has been getting phone calls from teachers seeking someone to talk to students about the Holocaust.
We were both motivated to find more survivors, as well as World War II liberators, realizing that we were in a race against time. An article in the August 25, 2010 Chapel Hill News gave us the publicity we needed to come into contact with a number of survivors and liberators in our area. At an initial meeting in late 2010, eight survivors and one liberator came together to discuss the possible goals of a Holocaust speakers bureau.
During April 2011, we began to see our work pay off. Not only were our survivors and liberators getting teaching/speaking engagements, we had an overwhelming response to our April 27 Holocaust program. More than 230 people, four mayors, and one state representative attended the Varsity Theatre in downtown Chapel Hill to honor survivors and liberators who live in our area.
The Holocaust Speakers Bureau has visited hundreds of schools and spoken to thousands of students. PowerPoint presentations accompany survivor talks. Traveling exhibits are made available to educators as well as reference books, DVDs, and artifacts. Community events, including several theatrical performances followed by panel discussions, were attended by overflow audiences.
In recent years, we have lost two of our speakers and a number of our speakers have informed us they are no longer able to travel to schools as they used to. Our organization's 2Gs (children of survivors) are now available to provide programs so that the message of the survivors continues. In 2014, we embarked on an ambitious project to film our survivors and liberators so that school teachers may easily access these remarkable stories. We have produced five documentary shorts. These videos are available on this website (see Videos tab) and on Youtube. Lesson plans for these videos can also be found under the Videos tab and on YouTube.
In 2016, our organization turned its focus on teacher development workshops and community events. Join us in our efforts. Donate your talents, time, or financial resources here.