One day when I was in third grade, a Jewish classmate of mine, Lisa Pomerantz, told the class a story of man’s inhumanity to man that has haunted me ever since.  Indeed, what she said that day literally changed my life.  She told how young Jewish boys and girls were murdered during World War II in Europe in something called the Holocaust.  My nine year-old mind could not conceive of such a thing ever happening to anyone, let alone to millions.  I have never been the same since and I have never forgotten her words. 

The years went by, and, over time, I learned more and more about this terrible time in history from my Jewish uncle, whose family came to Texas from Russia, and from my Jewish friends and neighbors.  Inspired to learn more, I began to read as much as I could about the Holocaust.  Later, in high school, I was a counselor at our local Jewish Community Center’s summer camp and there I met the children and grandchildren of survivors.  Time passed.  Then, one evening a few years ago, I was watching our local public access channel when a show called “Race and Reason” came on and the two men on screen – sitting in front of Confederate flag backdrop – began to discuss the Holocaust.  What I heard stunned and then enraged me.  In disbelief, as I watched, they talked about how Holocaust didn't happen, about how it was all a lie; in fact, they even called it the “Hoaxacaust.”  That’s when I knew what I had to do.  I had to tell the truth.  And I had learned it all those many years ago from the brave testimony of my classmate, Lisa.  Inspired by Lisa’s witness, I began to write.  The result is my novel for young adults, Cezanne Is Missing (Cambridge House Publishing: New York, 2006), which tells the story of a Warsaw Ghetto resistance fighter and her family.  My hope is that its witness and words move others to seek the paths of Truth and Remembrance, even as I was so moved by the words and witness of another many years ago.

As a result, Holocaust education is an important part of my life today.  In conjunction with my book, I lecture at junior highs and secondary schools around the country.  In Corpus Christi, I shared the stage with several local Holocaust survivors as I spoke to over three hundred high school students in a one-day seminar arranged around the main themes of the book.  I also accompany a survivor friend when she speaks to area elementary schools about her childhood experiences during the war.  In 2004, I was the featured speaker at our community’s Yom HaShoah observances at Temple Beth El.

In April 2005, I was on the committee that brought Gerda Weissmann Klein to Corpus Christi to speak at Del Mar College, where she addressed an assembly of 1700 young people bussed in from schools across South Texas.  Ms. Klein’s speech is still broadcast on our local public television station and the Del Mar College librarian has done a sophisticated and efficient job in assembling materials so students can conduct follow-up research on the issues addressed in Mrs. Klein’s moving testimony. In June 2005, I attended the annual conference of the Association of Holocaust Organizations in Richmond, Virginia, and, in December, I donated money and time as a member of the committee that worked with several churches and our local temple to bring Birkenau survivor Ernest Michel to Corpus Christi to speak about his experiences as a journalist at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.  I also accompanied Mr. Michel to two local high schools where he told the rapt audience of students about his time in Auschwitz, thereby touching their hearts and expanding their views of the world. 

As a guest of Ellen Fettner (Spirit of Anne Frank Award Winner), in February 2006 it was my privilege to attend the conference of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors held in Washington D.C.  In November of that same year, I attended the Jewish Children’s Book Writers’ Conference in New York City.  In January 2007, I was selected for the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors’ Holocaust & Jewish Resistance Teachers Program, which takes educators to Poland and Israel.  In July, seminar participants traveled to Warsaw, Lublin and Krakow, where we were instructed by a team of historians, including Michael Berenbaum, former director of the United States Holocaust Museum Research Institute, and then on to Israel, visiting Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Masada and the Ghetto Fighter’s Museum outside Nahariya.  The heart of the Israeli experience was a week of intense study at the prestigious International School For Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem under the tutelage of some of the world’s leading Holocaust scholars, amongst them Yehuda Bauer and David Bankier.  In 2007, Cezanne Is Missing was honored as the inaugural selection for the Jewish Community Association of Austin’s first ever Austin-Area-Wide Teen Book Club.  I continue to speak regularly to schools, churches, synagogues, civic groups and Holocaust museums across the country.