• All About One Clip at a Time

    One Clip at a Time

    “Changing the world… one class at a time.”

    Free In-Service/Professional Development Summer Workshop

    Are you ready to change the world?
    Then we are ready to help! If you are an educator looking to experience something truly beautiful and educationally compelling…if you are looking to make a lasting difference in your life as an educator and in the live’s of your students, then you should register now for our Free One Clip Summer Institute.

    One Clip at a Time is a non-profit organization based in Chattanooga, Tennessee that has created an engaging and interactive Social Studies/English/Service Learning Program based on the theme of tolerance and diversity and an accompanying educator’s kit designed to motivate and empower students. The Program crosses the curriculums and is standards based. The movement is an outgrowth of the “Paper Clip Project,” which brought worldwide attention to Whitwell, Tennessee after it was captured in the award-winning film, Paper Clips. Throughout the course of the program, students learn the history of the tragedy of the Holocaust and develop an awareness of the impact it had on the world. Students then discover ways to make positive changes in their own classrooms and communities and are encouraged to continually make a difference.

    • This two-day session will be conducted by One Clip/Three Village Educators, Irene Berman and Kate Hunter and will be held at the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County in Glen Cove, New York, Tuesday,  July 16 and Wednesday, July 17, 2019.  (9:00 am to 3:00 pm)
    • The first day of the session will include training on the One Clip curriculum, a tour of the museum, and a video conference with the President of One Clip at a Time .
    • The second day will include action planning and implementation, and a survivor testimonial.
    • A conference fee of $400 will be waived for all participating educators
    • The conference includes lunch both days
    • Travel back and forth to Glen Cove can be made easier by carpooling together!
    • Attendees will receive their own One Clip Kit, which includes a copy of the Paper Clips film, an informational CD, detailed lesson plans, student journals and primary source documents.
    • The Institute addresses the requirements of the Dignity Act directly as well as Common Core Standards.

    *Space is limited.  Session will be filled on first-come first-served basis.

    So, register today!  Grab a colleague or two, to share an educational journey that will begin in your heads and, no doubt, end in your hearts!

    ****Register Today at www.oneclipatatime.org

  • Press Release: “While There’s Life…”

    The Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County Presents

    While There’s Life…

    Poetry Reading and Book Signing by Ruth Minsky Sender

    Sunday, May 19, 2019, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.


    Ruth Minsky Sender

    Glen Cove, NY… The Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County (HMTC) presents While There’s Life…  A poetry reading and book signing of by Holocaust survivor and author/poet Ruth Minsky Sender at the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County.  Sunday, May 19, 2019, 3:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.

    The poems in her newest collection, While There’s Life…: Poems from the Mittelsteine Labor Camp (1944-1945), were written during Mrs. Minsky Sender’s incarceration as prisoner #55082 in the Nazi slave labor camp in Mittelsteine Germany.  She endeavored to depict scenes from her and other prisoners’ lives to give them courage and the will to continue living.

    Ruth Minsky Sender was born Rifkele Riva Minska to a Jewish family in Łodź, Poland.  After the war she and her family emigrated to the United States, settling on Long Island.  Mrs. Minsky Sender was a teacher of Jewish culture and history, specializing in the Holocaust.  She has written four other books about her Holocaust experiences including The Cage (1986).

    $10 Suggested donation to attend.  Light refreshments will be served. Seats are limited; reservations are recommended.  RSVP to (516) 571-8040 or info@hmtcli.org


  • Press Release: But When We Started Singing…

     The Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County Presents But When We Started Singing… A One-Man Performance Inspired By Primo Levi Conceived and Performed by Bob SpiottoSunday, June 9, 2019 at 2:00 p.m.

    Bob Spiotto as Primo Levi

    Glen Cove, NY… The Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County (HMTC) presents, in celebration of the 100th anniversary of the birth of Primo Levi, But When We Started Singing…  The performance will take place on Sunday, June 9, 2019 at 2:00 p.m at Welwyn Preserve, 100 Crescent Beach Road, Glen Cove, NY 11542.  This one-man performance, conceived and performed by Bob Spiotto, is inspired by the life and poetry of Holocaust survivor and world renowned author and poet and Italian-Jew, Primo Levi (1919-1987).

    Robert “Bob” Spiotto is a creative/artistic/management professional who has worked in arts and entertainment for more than 30 years. He holds a B.F.A. in Theater Performance from Hofstra University and a M.F.A. in Directing from The Catholic University of America.  Mr. Spiotto is currently the Director of Programs/Special Events at New York’s famous Friar’s Club.  Previously, he served as the first Executive/Artistic Director of the historic Suffolk Theater (theater/restaurant/bar), prior to which he worked at Hofstra University (1990-2012) as Executive Producer/Artistic Director for Hofstra Entertainment; Artistic Director of Community Arts Programs for the Hofstra Cultural Center (music, theater, cultural, original programming), and Director/Producer of Special Events (festivals, conferences, public programs).  He served on the faculty of Hofstra’s School of Continuing Education, taught classes for Hofstra’s Summer Camps, and was an adjunct professor in their School of Communication as well as Hofstra’s New College. Mr. Spiotto has received awards from Hofstra University for his distinguished service and teaching accomplishments.

    In addition to his many accomplishments, he has directed hundreds of theater productions at various regional and professional theaters, schools and universities, as well as for various organizations and companies.  He has also created and appeared in numerous one-man shown exploring the lives of P.T Barnum, Giuseppe Garibaldi, Primo Levi Michaelangelo, Sholom Aleichem, and others.  A trio of his critically acclaimed one-man musical tributes include That’s Amore:  A Tribute to Mr. Hollywood Musical – Harry Warren, Shades of Grey: A Musical Tribute to Joel Grey, and Courting the Jester: A Salute to Danny Kaye, which was re-worked and presented at Lincoln Center.

    Primo Levi was born in Turin, Italy in 1919, to a family of assimilated and fairly non-religious Jews with Spanish roots.  In 1943, he joined a band of partisans devoted to fighting Germans and Italian facists.  Levi spent 10 months at the Nazi concentration camp at Auschwitz and was liberated in 1945.  In 1977 he retired from his position as manager of a chemical factory in Turin, devoting himself exclusively to writing until the time of his controversial death on April 11, 1987 in the apartment building where he was born and eventually took up residence.  Levi is known for his novels and poetry collections such as If This Is a Man, The Periodic Table, If Not Now, When,  and The Drowned and the Saved.

    $10 suggested donation to attend.  Light refreshments will be served. Seats are limited; reservations are recommended.  RSVP to (516) 571-8040 or info@hmtcli.org

  • “While There’s Life…” a Book Review by Marcia Posner


     by Ruth Minsky Sender

    After writing three books, all memoirs : “The Cage,”  “To Life,” (which you may borrow from our library) and “The Holocaust Lady,” Ruth Minsky Sender Sender has recently published a book of poems, mainly written after 1950.  They are poems of the deepest emotions and yes, perhaps trust too. “Each poem is a delicate work of art.” wrote one reviewer. Most have been translated from the Yiddish and a few from the  Polish, during her  incarceration in the Mittelsteine Slave Labor Camp (1944-1945).  She wrote them in a little notebook given to her as a gift by the Nazi Commandant as a reward for entertaining the guards at Christmas, which all 400 Jewish slave labor girls were forced to do. Ruth would also read her poems each Sunday to the 50 other women sharing the room with her.

    Discussing the writing of poetry, has your heart ever been so heavy that you,too, wrote poetry to sustain yourself ? Ruth Minsky Sender was blessed to have a mother who managed to maintain hope, saying: “Where there is life is hope;” even in the camp, until she died. Perhaps that is why Ruth was able to pour out her feelings in poetry written secretly during her stay at the slave labor camp. They were not only poems of despair, but also of infinite wisdom and hope.  As one reviewer wrote: “While There’s Life . . .” is a volume that should be read and re-read by people of all faiths.  It is a portrait not just of survival, but of how one woman transformed her pain in humanity’s darkest hour into art. . . into life.”

    How fortunate are we, to be free, to be able to share, words so rare.  Hoorah, Ruth Minsky Sender. Welcome to HMTC.

    Mrs. Minsky Sender will be at HMTC on Sunday, May 19, 2019 at 3:00 pm for a poetry reading and book signing.  Please RSVP to info@hmtcli.org or (516)571-8040. $10 suggested donation; light refreshments will be served.

  • You’re Invited to The Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County’s Tolerance Benefit: “Taste of Long Island” and Silent Auction Monday, May 6, 2019, at 6:00 p.m.

    Glen Cove, NY…  Experience a taste of Long Island’s best restaurants at the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County’s (HMTC) annual Tolerance Benefit: “Taste of Long Island.”  This year’s benefit features a tasting event and silent auction on Monday, May 6, 2019, at 6 p.m. at Westbury Manor, 1100 Jericho Turnpike, Westbury, NY.  In addition, three middle and high-school students will be presented with the Friedlander Upstander Award.

    Bidding at the Silent Auction

    The Tolerance Benefit is a way for donors, volunteers, Holocaust Survivors and members of the community to join together to raise money in support of HMTC’s Holocaust, anti-bias and anti-bullying education programs. Those donations make it possible to provide transportation for school groups to visit HMTC’s world-class museum and to hear first-hand testimony from a Holocaust Survivor and for nurses and law enforcement officers to participate in free training workshops.

    The Friedlander Upstander Award, presented by HMTC and the Claire Friedlander Family Foundation, in conjunction with the Nassau and Suffolk County Police Departments, is awarded to Nassau and Suffolk County middle school and high school students who have acted as Upstanders against bullying or intolerance in any of its forms. Recipients receive a $2,500 scholarship.

    The Tolerance Benefit is sponsored by Samar Hospitality, the Ike, Molly & Steven Elias Foundation, Stewart Title Associates, The Claire Friedlander Family Foundation, and Mojo-Stumer Associates. Other Sponsorship opportunities are available. Tickets are $135 a person and a ten-pack of tickets is available for $1,200. To make a donation or purchase tickets or a sponsorship online visit http://weblink.donorperfect.com/tolerance2019.

    For more information about sponsorship packages and to purchase tickets, contact Deborah Lom at (516) 571-8040 or dlom@hmtcli.org.

  • HMTC in the Community: Lila Alexander

    H.H. Wells Middle School, Brewster, NY

    On Friday, February 15, 2019, HMTC docent and educator, Lila Alexander, spoke at H.H. Wells Middle School in Brewster, NY, to two groups of eighth grade students along with their teachers. Lila was invited to speak by English teacher Cathy Dima after Ms. Dima was approached by Lila’s granddaughter, Alexandra Schajer, a student in Ms. Dima’s class, who told her teacher that her grandmother was an educator and docent at the Center and would be willing to speak to the class. The class was reading Night by Elie Wiesel and Ms. Dima thought it would be appropriate for the students to hear from someone who could give them additional information about the Holocaust.

    Lila was quite surprised when she discovered that instead of the 30 or so students in Alexandra’s class she thought she would be speaking to, she would instead be speaking to nearly 200 students, two “teams” of the eighth grade. Since she was given free reign of what aspect of the Holocaust to speak about, Lila chose to discuss the Lvov ghetto where her grandmother died and from which her aunt escaped.

    The students were engaged and attentive as Lila described what life in a ghetto was like as well as the particular circumstances in the Lvov Ghetto which led to her grandmother urging her daughter, Lila’s Aunt Gina, to sneak out of the ghetto and make her way to Russia where she joined a partisan group and lived in the woods with them for two years. Lila also described the terrible conditions in the ghetto which caused her grandmother’s death from starvation.

    The audience was respectful and appreciative of the information Lila shared with them, evidenced by the many wonderful questions that were asked by both students and teachers.

    Lila Alexander is a retired teacher and an HMTC docent and volunteer.  She is also one of the recipients of the 2018 Bruce Morrell Education Award.


  • Friedlander Upstander Award Winner: Sage Gladstone

    Sage Gladstone (3rd from right), a student at South Woods Middle School was a winner of the 2018 Friedlander Upstander Award at at HMTC’s 2018 Tolerance Benefit. Her essay below demonstrates that she has acted as an Upstander against bullying and intolerance.

    Taking action, helping others, and making a difference.  Those are my values and my purpose in life.  I love constantly pushing for a better world, not just speaking about it.  I take initiative and make my ideas come to life.  My sense of responsibility to the world outside of mine is what drives me to help people.  I want to live in a world that is caring, promotes peace, and celebrates differences.  However, I know that can’t happen overnight, and maybe can’t ever happen, but I wake up every day to work towards my goal, rise above obstacles, and be an Upstander for all.

    I have been striving to fulfill that goal of mine since I was five years old.  When I was in kindergarten, I saw that there was a girl a few grades above me who didn’t have any hair.  I felt sad, confused, and worried that she may get made fun of or laughed at, so I wanted to help.  I wanted to show her that someone cared and was thinking about her, so I went home that day to ask my mom if I could cut my hair and just give it to her,  My mom said I couldn’t’ do exactly that but I could donate my hair to people just like her.  Even in my five-year-old mind, I was totally on board with the idea that I could make someone’s day or life better from just one small act.  A few months later, I cut my hair to the point where it looked like I should be dancing the Charleston with my flapper friends, and donated it to Locks of Love.  I did that two more times when I was in fourth grade and this past summer, between seventh and eighth grade.  I realized I was slowly making a change… a change that I wanted to see in our world.

    It has always been a priority of mine to acknowledge others and their feelings because it’s important to appreciate the work that everyone does.  I try to spread my appreciation to people who make our world go around but are sometimes forgotten like the bus drivers, security guards, custodians, and lunch servers.   I also think it is important to stand up to unkind behavior wherever I am.  I will not tolerate rude remarks, bullying, or peer pressure.  Even if doing the right thing is the unpopular choice to make in a situation, I will do it for the sake of the people being hurt.

    Last year, I began many new initiatives at my school to help work towards the change I want to see.  For example, I organized a welcoming committee that invited all of our new students to come and play games and talk about their experiences in our school so far.  I wanted to make sure all the students felt noticed and welcomed.

    When I was home sick with the flu last year, I watched a video online about an amazing non-profit organization called Days for Girls.  This organization assembles sustainable feminine hygiene kits to donate to girls in impoverished areas around the world such as Nepal, parts of India, Haiti and so many other places.  Without the proper materials, these girls end up missing up to five days a week each month with most girls ending up having a deprived education.  Without an education it’s hard for these girls to achieve their goals and pursue their dreams.  These kits aren’t only giving them the items every girl needs, it’s giving them a future… a life to look forward to.  These girls are punished for something that is so natural in every girl’s life and are sent to huts to deal with it by themselves.  While they are in these huts, most commonly refereed to as chhaupadis, their biggest fear isn’t trying to make sure they are staying clean and healthy, it’s worrying about being raped.  These huts are in the middle of nowhere with hardly any protection from any of those vicious men.  After I watched the video, I went to their website to find the Days for Girls’ phone number so I could contact them and see what I could do to help.  When I called, they listed a bunch of volunteer opportunities for me to be apart of.  I thought hosting a drive to collect the materials needed for these kits was the best option.  Once I recovered from the flu and was back at school, I attended a meeting with my feminist club and shared what I had learned about the organization, and pitched the idea of holding a drive.  My club advisers and peers loved the idea but we couldn’t start it just yet because it was too late in the year.  So, we saved my idea for this year.  Over the summer I kept in contact with Days for Girls, collecting all the information I needed to launch a successful drive.  In the fall, I went back to school and planned logistics for this drive to work in meetings with my principal and many conversations with Days for Girls representatives.  Soon, I was ready to put boxes out and have donations roll in.  I really wanted this to be a successful drive so I contacted a representative named Kathy from a local team and asked her to come and speak at my school on behalf of Days for Girls.  We set up a date, and asked students to come listen and learn about Days for Girls at their lunch periods; we had a rather well turn our and even a boy showed up.  It was amazing to have my peers have the opportunity to be educated on an organization that its so important and amazing but yet a forgotten world issue.  After Thanksgiving break we put out donation boxes and I created posters to decorate our school with.  I loved Kathy’s presentation, but I still wanted to teach more about this wonderful organization, so I created a presentation and lectured in health classes about why it is important to donate.  After about a month of running the toiletry drive, my mom and I delivered our four overflowing boxes of donations to Dumont, New Jersey, where Kathy lives.  Throughout this whole experience, I kept in touch with Allie, a representative at the Days for Girls headquarters in Washington State.  After multiple calls and emails, Allie reached out to me and asked if she could feature my story in the Days for Girls monthly newsletter.  Of course I said yes, and Allie congratulated me for being the youngest volunteer to be featured.  My responsibility does not end with one successful drive.  I’m still committed to spreading the message of Days for Girls and will continue to raise awareness at my school.  Next month, I will hold a second drive as well as continue to educate my peers with a global awareness exhibit I’ve organized at my school’s awareness fair.

    The problems needed to be addressed in order to achieve my ideal world does not stop with menstruation.  While we have different religions, talents, hobbies, and beliefs, I know we all have the power to be kind.  I am driven to encourage kindness not only through the halls of my school, but also out in our world.  I am currently in the process of spearheading many kindness movements at my school.  The main project is the Blue Box Campaign where students receive a classmate’s name and are encouraged to write an anonymous compliment about them.  I am also setting it up for teachers.  The main purpose of this movement is to encourage people to make others feel good about themselves and to spread the idea that we can all uplift each other with a simple gesture.  I’m also launching a kindness mural project, where all students are asked to write their definition of kindness.  After everyone’s definition is collected, I will create the mural in a hallway at my school.  The process of each student writing their unique definition of kindness will make them have to consider what being kind actually means to them.  I will also kick off a Token of Kindness Project where Peer Mediators will carry around stickers that have quotes abut kindness on them.  When we see acts of kindness during the school day we will give them out.  This project is designed to let everyone know that all acts of kindness, big or small, never go unnoticed.  To tie all of the kindness projects together, I will be organizing another kindness moment called Kind Hands of South Woods for students and teachers to paint their hands and leave their hand prints on a piece of paper.  This resembles their pledge to be kind and contribute positivity to our school.  I hope I will be able to cement the value of Kindness into the minds of my peers as I launch these initiatives.

    My sense of responsibility to change our world for the better and promote kindness doesn’t just end with humans, I believe I should show the same respect to animals.  I became a vegetarian in kindergarten because I felt really bad at the thought that I was eating another living thing.  However, sticking with those eating habits got difficult especially at such a young age and I was only a vegetarian sporadically, until this past summer when I watched a few documentaries about the vegan diet.  Last month marked 6 month of being vegan, this experience proved to me that helping other human or not is something that I care strongly about and I am willing to do it and not give up.

    “Be the change you want to see in the world” is a powerful quote that I think best sums up my vision for being an Upstander.  I will always push for a better world and challenge myself on how I can make an even larger impact than the day before.  Through high school, college, adulthood, and when I’m old, I will continue to be an Upstander, someone who will never forget the importance of advocating for others and love for helping them.  I hope to spread this message of helping the people around you and thinking about lives beyond your own to all the beautiful humans on this planet we share.

    Are you an Upstander?

    If you have a story that sounds like Sage’s and you are a Middle or High School student from Nassau or Suffolk Counties, share it with us! You might be one of our 2019 Friedlander Upstander Winners.

    Apply via the link below:

    Friedlander Upstander Awards

    Or mail to:

    Helen Turner | Friedlander Upstander Award, 100 Crescent Beach Road, Glen Cove, NY 11542

    For more information please call: (516) 571-8040 or email helenturner@hmtcli.org.



  • Friedlander Upstander Award Essay by Edgar Lizama

    Edgar Lizama (3rd from right), was a student at Huntington High School at the time of receiving Honorable Mention for the Friedlander Upstander Award at HMTC’s 2018 Tolerance Benefit. His essay below demonstrates that he has acted as an Upstander against bullying and intolerance.

    Becoming an Upstander in my community is moving from silence to action.  I have decided to speak up against the negative stereotypes imposed upon the immigrant community and immigrants like myself attend school with the hope to learn the English language and achieve a higher education.  This task is complicated to achieve in a political atmosphere where the intolerance against the undocumented community on many occasions is cherished and encouraged.  The environment in what we the immigrants live is truly sad.  When I immigrated three years ago to the U.S., I only knew the poverty and violence I was going through in my country El Salvador.  The fairy tales that people from my country used to tell me about the U.S. are totally different from what I see now.  People being discriminated and called “aliens” is something that hurts me because this term is referred to extraterrestrial life or something that is not from the planet Earth.  There are some of many reasons why I have decided to become an Upstander and fight for the freedom of opportunity like the founding fathers of this country believed it.

    There are so many things that I see in my community and school that encourage me to help and advocate immigrants and student like myself.  One of the examples that made me cry is when I was in that room surrounded by those students who were born here and speak perfect English.  When I was in that room I felt isolated because the majority did not accept me or did not want to help me because I did not know how to speak English and also did not look like them.  I was different.  I was a foreign student with poor communication skills.  When I see immigrant students like me who have come from foreign countries of Latin-America I always try to welcome them with a smile.  Or sometimes helping them with their homework and translating phrases they do not know yet.  I do not want these students to feel like I used to, I am holding the door open for them because it was never opened to me.  I do not want them to be rejected because of their lack of English.  Instead, I want them to see me as one of them, as a brother they can always count on.  This is why I look forward to empowering the immigrants’ community and giving them a message that no one has the right to take away their dreams and hope because we are a family and we won’t let each other to be hurt by anyone.

    The stereotypes and political ideologies that I see here in America are sad and destroy immigrants families. For example, two years ago my mother worked in a fast food restaurant, she was an exceptional worker, she had a potential with a stamina that allowed her to do three tasks at the same time, she worked really hard to get those $400 at the end of the week.  However, her boss was a man that didn’t care what she did or how she felt, he just wanted to exploit her to get his profit.  There was one time that at the end of the week my mother’s boss did not pay her what she had really earned; he paid her $200 instead of $400.  And her boss thought it was okay because she was an undocumented immigrant that did not have a voice or rights because she was an alien, someone who did not belong to this country.  When I saw her come crying into our bedroom where my sister, she and I live, I was shocked and upset because this individual had hurt my mother, the one who brought me into this world.  I did not think twice what I was about to do.  I put my jacket on and went straight up to this restaurant.  I was a kid who knew some words in English.  When I got to this restaurant I looked straight up to his face and told him that my mother had the right to get paid what she had really earned.  I discussed with him the labor rights that I had read in U.S. history books in my school.  At the end of the debate between my mother’s boss and me we came up  with an agreement that he would give her the rest of the money that she had earned and that he would never do any of the type of this action upon any worker in his restaurant.  When I was walking home I felt the alleviation in my body and mind.  Since that time I understood that if we never try to make a change in our society our world is never going to change.

    Another way how I practice in my school being an Upstander is helping the ESL students (student with English as a second language).  In my school there’s a nickname for foreign Latinos students,  It is the “mamis and papis”.  Students who were born here in the U.S. used these nicknames to describe a Latino student that does not speak any English at all and those who only speak the Spanish language. I’ve been called by that name as well because I’m a foreigner.  However, since I have learned so much in this country in the academic and environmental field I have acquired different skills to protect myself and those who are being discriminated against from this stereotype.  Once I was walking into the library of my school and there was Alberto being called papi, the word that I’ve been described as.  I felt the anger but dint show it.  Instead, I used education which is a system that let me expressed my feeling in a passive way and I don’t offend anyone using it.  I remember telling everyone in that room of the library that is not a way to treat someone who has come to this country looking for a better way of life or telling them “we are not here because we want to be.  We are here because our parents have decided to bring us here to succeed and not leaving us in a country where violence, corruption, and poverty are the major obstacles that influence people to immigrate to the U.S.”  I was shielding my Latino brother, and I was proud to be at his side.  I’ll always have his back because this is why we are a family.

    To finish my story of how I’ve become an Upstander in my community and school, I want to let you know that I do not regret what I’ve done.  In these critical times where humanity do not understand the fundamental principals of life, freedom, and happiness is when we can make a change. I have decided to move from silence to action and speak up to make a change in our political atmosphere where immigrants like myself are being discriminated and hated.  These are the reasons why I have become an Upstander and I want to let all my immigrant community and family know that I am always going to be there for them.

    Are you an Upstander?

    If you have a story that sounds like Edgar’s and you are a Middle or High School student from Nassau or Suffolk Counties, share it with us! You might be our 2019 Friedlander Upstander Winner.

    Apply via the link below:

    Friedlander Upstander Awards

    Or mail to:

    Helen Turner | Friedlander Upstander Award, 100 Crescent Beach Road, Glen Cove, NY 11542

    For more information please call: (516) 571-8040 or email helenturner@hmtcli.org.

  • The Story of Yiddish: The Language of Belonging Part II

    The Story of Yiddish

    Why Was Yiddish Created?

    There are about as many theories about how and why Yiddish got started as there are Jews, or maybe even one more.  A popular theory is that the Jews developed a secret language that could only be understood by other Jews so that they could communicate with each other with no one else knowing what they were saying.

    Another is that this was a way they could transact business outside of the earshot of their persecutors — and outside the gentiles’ hearing about the deals they were making behind their backs.  Still another is that the Jews needed a language in which to laugh at their seemingly unending troubles and, perhaps most important, poke fun at and disrespect the gentiles who were creating their troubles.

    Whatever the reason, or reasons, there is no doubt Yiddish helped the Jews survive the relentless historical persecutions in Europe and Russia, providing them with a common way of expressing themselves that bound them into a community and gave them the ability to talk privately among themselves.

    Chagall’s “Liebende”

    This famous painting by Marc Chagall, entitled “Liebende” or “Beloved,” depicts common shtetl themes.

    A Well-Respected Language

    But what began as a language to be used in secret among a tribe of people has become a major European language, a recognized and respected language in countries all over the world, a true language which provides the means for outstanding theatrical, musical and literary expression and the enrichment of people everywhere.

    Yet the origins of Yiddish were very humble.  As far as scholars can agree, it began in about the year 850, during the ninth century, in the early Middle Ages.  Just to put that in perspective, that was the same time as the Arabs developed the astrolabe, the instrument that helped determine the location of the sun and the stars and first made exploration of the seas possible.  It was also the time when the crossbow was first invented.

    And it was also the year that groups of Jews who had settled in Germany first began to develop a special language of their own, building on the German of the time and adding their own unique verbal spices to the stew.  At the time, these German lands were called Ashkenaz by the Jews.  Ashkenaz was the medieval Hebrew name for Germany, named after a descendant of Noah in the Bible.  This is why the descendants of these Jews are called Ashkenazi Jews.

    Cat In The Hat

    Literature and scholarship written in Yiddish abound, with many books composed in other languages translated for a Yiddish audience.

    Yiddish in Today’s World

    Today three-quarters of modern Yiddish words are based on German, though mostly with the vowels pronounced differently.  It is written using the Hebrew alphabet, but much of the syntax is Slavic.  This is because Yiddish contains elements from the many other languages that were absorbed through the migrations of the Ashkenazi Jews.  Hebrew, known as loshen-koydesh, the holy tongue, was regarded as a sacred language reserved for ritual and spiritual purposes and thus not in common use outside synagogue activities.

    This is how Yiddish became the day-to-day language of the Jews.  And in a manner that is quintessentially Yiddish, the cultural and linguistic evolution of the language was — and is — in a constant state of fusion with other components, continuing to grow and change in the fluid mix of culture, emotion, tradition, geographic movement and personal experience that still today defines Jewish life.

    Dr. Linda Burghardt

    Dr. Linda Burghardt, the Scholar-in-Residence at HMTC, is a journalist and author from Great Neck, NY.  She worked as a freelance reporter for the New York Times for 20 years and is the author of three non-fiction books.  Her articles and essays have appeared in newspapers across the U.S., and she has lectured to both national and international audiences.  She holds a Ph.D. from LIU Post and is the daughter of Holocaust survivors from Vienna.

  • Bryn Schlussler: 2018 Friedlander Upstander Award Essay

    Bryn Schlussler (3rd from right), was a student at Bay Shore High School at the time of receiving Honorable Mention for the Friedlander Upstander Award at HMTC’s 2018 Tolerance Benefit.  Her essay bellow demonstrates that he has acted as an Upstander against bullying and intolerance.

    School is supposed to be a place to learn.  School is supposed to be a place to make friends.  We are told to raise our hands to ask a question.  We are told to raise them isf we have an answer.  We are told that there is no shame in answering a question incorrectly, and that our classmates will not make fun of us if we are wrong.

    Somewhere, somehow we went wrong.  Rumors and insults linger in the halls.  The price tag on our clothes means more than the person wearing them.  We exclude others who are different from us, creating our own social hierarchy in four walls that are supposed to prevent them.  At the very top, the people who everyone wants to be friends with- the “cool” people.  On the bottom, the “rejects”.  People stray away from them because they’re “different” and “weird.”

    Prior to the Sandy Hook Elementary shooting, Adam Lanza was described as, “deeply troubled,” by his peers.  Dylan Klebold before the Columbine High School massacre grew a deep hatred for school.  No one questioned it.  No other students tried to help the cause.  People found them weird, and different far before they were labeled as felons, much like most school shooters.  According to CNN, on average there has been a school shooting a week so far in 2018.  We bicker back and forth about gun control, thinking that is the issue.  We think we are making the problem better by talking about it, but in reality, we are not doing anything.  We treat the problem like it is unresolvable.

    But it is not.  While we do not have authority over the issue of gun control, we do have the authority of our own actions.  It is time to start treating others the way we wish to be treated.

    Growing up in a large district, I was exposed to a wide array of people in terms of ethnicity, intelligence, and personality.  There have always been a few students that stray away from the others.  As I progressed to high school I have become more aware of the special education students and how secluded they were from the rest of the students their age.  The general education student population would make fun of these students, whether it was by mimicking them to their face, or by using the work “retarded” behind their back.  This gave me the ammunition to break down the wall between students with and without special needs.

    For two years, I assisted in an adaptive physical education class.  Being the only student in the room without intellectual or developmental disabilities at first was daunting because now I was different from anyone else- but that quickly changed.  Within the gym class, I grew incredibly close to all the students in it.  Forty minutes a day I was able to do more than just be a peer of theirs- I ended up being a vital ingredient in helping them increase their social skills.  They ended up becoming acquainted with my friends and as they passed by friends in the hallway, everyone would be excited to simply say, “hi.”  As opposed to people turning heads and ignoring these special education students, people began acknowledging them, setting off a chain reaction.

    Simultaneously, I helped establish the inaugural Bay Shore chapter of Best Buddies International , which  is a program dedicated for forming authentic friendships between students with and without intellectual and development disabilities.  In the beginning, we were expecting about five general education students, but were incredibly enthusiastic when we were able to recruit over 60 members through publicizing Best Buddies in several different fashions.

    Best Buddies has brought the feeling of friendship and companionship on behalf of both general education students and special education students, while being in their gym class allowed me to break down preexisting walls for these students.  With a little more acceptance from everyone, we can slowly start to see change.