Marc Tanchel, President of Temple Emanuel, introduces Sandy Rubenstein before she speaks to the 7th graders.
Dear Mrs. Rubenstein, What a moving presentation! Thank you so much for your time and effort, sharing your history and legacy with us. I was deeply moved, especially since I survived Hitler’s Germany. Everyone present today felt the same way I did. Best wishes to you and your husband. Gratefully, Ellen Levy
Dear Rabbi Kniaz, We would like to thank you for the opportunity to attend Ms. Rubenstein’s presentation on her father’s experiences during the Holocaust. One could not walk away without feeling the deep and personal pain that Mr. Horn experienced in surviving the horrors of Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen. On the other hand, Mr. Horn’s story of survival was awe-inspiring as ultimately evidenced by his emigration to the United States and the family that he and his wife, also a survivor, started and raised. The fact that Mr. Horn survived is truly a miracle after skirting death so many times. When we heard about the multiple instances where Mr. Horn escaped certain extermination (from Mr. Horn’s secret bar mitzvah, to convincing German guards that he was useful by correctly answering how to determine the circumference of a circle, to escaping a labor camp), we were almost left breathless. It is imperative that the stories of survivors continue to be heard so that generations to come cannot only learn from the past but can dictate change so that tragedies are not repeated. This presentation was very emotional and intriguing. Jaden said, “This made me want to pick up Mr. Horn’s book and really understand what went on in Mr. Horn’s mind.” Jaden also said that this increased his interest in learning about the Holocaust. Thanks, again, for this unique opportunity.
Amy, Scott and Jaden Gerard – Religious School Director Shelley Kniaz, Parents of a 7th grader and members of Temple Emanuel
“What a pleasure to meet and work with you. Your warmth, direct contact with the audience and professionalism helped achieve the Commemoration planning team’s educational and program goals. Your dedication to Holocaust Education and the heart you invest in sharing your and your family’s story are much appreciated.”
Gabriela Sadote Sleppin Director, Jewish Community Relations Council Jewish Federation of Greater Middlesex County
“I can’t thank you enough for speaking to the 2G group of the Holocaust Resource Foundation. The event was meaningful for so many reasons. First, of course, is the powerful way you share your father’s experiences and your memories of him. The emotional impact connects the entire audience to him, and to you. Next, I was so thrilled to finally meet you. After our first phone conversation, I could not wait to be in the presence of such a dedicated educator – you have already motivated me in my own work. And finally, your presentation inspired so many in our group to develop their own family histories and to connect to their legacies. “Thank you for your encouragement of our group. I know everyone is looking forward to working with you again in the future.”
Stacy Schiller, Acting Director Holocaust Resource Center/Diversity Council Kean University Union, NJ
“We thank you for the truly moving presentation you gave to the boys and, in the process, provided us with an exceptional amount to think about. While the subject was emotionally difficult for the boys, their comments to me afterward indicated that your father’s story was not lost on them nor the myriad lessons of universal import to be gleaned from it. They were universally absorbed by what you had to say. So much so, that one-eighth grader proclaimed: ‘The numbers that we frequently hear about the Holocaust, such as six million, do not mean anywhere near as much as one person’s story.’ Because of your father’s story as told by you and him, the stories of countless others not only came to life, but also came to have real substantive meaning for our boys. “Our primary role as educators at GJA is to give our boys the tools to think in an unfettered fashion. Each and every day we try to find ‘the question’ that will engage them in this quest. Your perfectly orchestrated, ever so inspiring sharing of your father’s story served to fulfill that goal in so many ways. My hunch is that it will continue to do so for the rest of the boys’ lives. “What a wonderful afternoon you brought to the boys and their mentors at GJA. I do hope you will come again and bring your magic with you.”
David M. Arnold Head of School George Jackson Academy www.gjacademy.org
About 15 3Gs (that’s third generation) from the organization 3GNY gathered at the NYC Facing History headquarters under the helm of Director Peter Nelson. The purpose of this meeting was for Sandy Rubenstein to share her work with those who have stories to tell about their own survivor grandparents. How do we harness the power of each story and share with students? Sandy showed one way she has developed in order to do so and shared a 15 minute condensed presentation of how she weaves the Shoah testimony into the survival story of her father, Joseph Horn, who passed away in 1999. Comments from participants:
It was so nice to meet you and to hear your presentation. I was so moved by your father’s story and the way it was delivered. I’d love to see it in its entirety when you think it’s appropriate. I’m looking forward to working and my story/presentation. I’m eager to find ways to get more involved with remembrance and education initiatives. Looking forward to staying in touch.
On behalf of 3GNY, I wanted to thank you for sharing with us your father’s haunting story and the powerful presentation you have crafted. Each of our WEDU participants gained key tools in helping shape our own family legacy. On a personal note, I wanted to say that I was very moved by your father’s testimony as well as his love for this country. As the first American in my family, I was brought up with the responsibility and burden of my grandparents’ survival as well as the greatest appreciation for freedom and the gift of light. We celebrate the 4th of July, every day in my childhood home. I really hope to see the entire presentation and will contact you in the near future about an event based on your work. Thank you for time and graciousness.
Respectfully, Leora Klein
Dear Sandy, I just wanted to say thank you again for coming to present at our school. The afternoon you left, I had so many faculty members approach me to say what a wonderful, beautiful, and meaningful presentation it was. I am deeply impressed by your dedication and sincerity in passing on your father’s story and to continue to “bear witness” for all those whose lives were lost. May we all continue to do the good work that’s needed in the world.
-Sincerely, Denise Talotta, Guidance Counselor
“It was a pleasure meeting you at Karen Meister’s home last week. My husband, mother-in-law, a survivor herself, and I were very moved by your excellent presentation of your father’s tragic personal experiences in the camps. You are certainly keeping your beloved father’s memory alive and vibrant. I felt as though I had met him and heard the stories from him personally. I have just started reading his book and am finding it hard to put down.”
-Marcelle Mervis, daughter of Holocaust survivors
“What a wonderful and moving presentation. Your father was a man of wonderful spirit, courage and strength. You are a woman of great strength too, with poise and beauty. Thank you for sharing your time, your work, and your father’s story with us.”
-Karen Rae Steele, President, Bergen County Professional Counselors Association
“Thank you for a truly moving presentation today. The other 9th grade teachers had a great deal of feedback from the students in class after your talk. Students had many more questions that were answered and led to very intense discussions. One of the History teachers said that the discussions led the students to become more introspective and led to personal comments that brought some to tears. You are a true credit to both of your parents for your spirit in sharing with us.”
-Hilda MacLean, Teacher, Bergenfield High School, Bergenfield, NJ
“On behalf of the 7th grade students and parents, I would like to take this opportunity to thank you for your presentation on Sunday, October 18 th . The students and parents were so moved by the story of your parents’ journey. As you know, the students will be visiting the US Holocaust Museum next week, and you’ve given them such insight into the events of that time. I hope you will share this meaningful story with all of 7 th graders in the coming years. I know that all the participants will gain an even greater understanding through reading the memoir, Mark It With a Stone , written by your father, Joseph Horn.”
-Gary Hirschberg, President, Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley
“I heard tremendous feedback about your program. Thank you again; we are so privileged to have the opportunity to have you in our children’s lives. It is such a mitzvah that you do this work that so greatly honors both the memory of your father and all victims and survivors. It also continues his wish that we remember, bear witness, and that the next generation learns to fight injustice in our own time.”
-Mark Tanchel, MD, Co-chair, Board of Education, Temple Emanuel of the Pascack Valley
“I knew the story, saw the video, and yet, I was speechless. You are an incredible presenter with an important story to tell.”
-Elaine Meyerson, Executive Director, Shelter Our Sisters
“My thanks to you for a meaningful presentation.”
-With blessings, Rabbi Tow, Rabbi, Glen Rock Jewish Center
After my presentation to the Middle School students, Laurence Sulner, a sixth grader, was inspired to write this poem:
The Holocaust Remembered Shots ring as soldiers arrange groups of Jews
The humming of the locomotives
The mumbling in German, “filthy Jew”
The whispering in the underground Safe Place
The sharp sound of synchronized steps on the streets Of the ghettos
The BANG of a pistol and the THUD of an innocent being collapsing As desperate voices scream HELP Yet receive nothing but a loud silence
The murmurs of Yiddish in the grimy cars
The screams and cries of childless mothers
The shuffles of room-less feet wiggling on the floor
The metal gears that screech to a halt.
The steel mouths screaming HERE WE ARE, so PREPARE TO BE SHOWERED
Listen listen listen
The gates are opening
The smell of fear travels round ARBEIT MACHT FREI: Work will make (one) free Voices calling and yelling GATHER THEM UP ‘CAUSE THEIR TIME IS UP
“Once again, thank you for your visit and your very powerful presentation. Your father’s story touched us all. We hope that you continue to come back and not allow this piece of history to ever be forgotten.”
-Lynne Hirschhorn, 8th Grade Dean
“I couldn’t help but notice how you are able to look out upon your audience and see their expressions as they soak up your father’s story. One of the final images, of the large rocks representing the cities and Jewish citizens who perished, made me think of each and every one of these students who are now bearing witness to your father’s story, and how this dream of his has been realized. I’m sure many seeds were planted today.”
-Jeannie Aaron, parent
“I was very moved by your presentation this morning. You are a beautiful speaker. I was touched by your father’s story, especially in the details, and very moved, also, by your devotion to keep telling it.”
-Stacey Mindich, Stacey Mindich Productions
“I was so profoundly touched to see and hear both you and your father this morning. Who could imagine on a cold, rainy, miserable day such as this that I could feel so hopeful and uplifted. Your masterful and heartfelt telling of your father’s story had a major impact on your audience, and what an enraptured group they were! Horace Mann is truly a magical place and this morning, you were Merlin.”
-Debbie Kochnower Oronato, guidance counselor
Horace Mann Lower Division teacher Sandy Rubenstein will be giving a presentation today in Gross Theater
“After your presentation, we spent the entire period talking about the assembly. The kids talked about their own family experiences, how powerful your and your father’s words were. You had a number of fans and former students in all of my classes. ‘We never knew what Mrs. Rubenstein’s family had been through!’ They learned so much from your father’s story. They were incredulous that people didn’t know, or didn’t choose to know, and how people did not help, or could not help. Your focus of hope and the human spirit rang so true with us all. Thank you for your continuing legacy of education and light.”
-Josy Hahn, Middle School Teacher, Horace Mann School, Riverdale, NY
“Sandy Rubenstein did a tremendous job on her Holocaust presentation this morning. The downstairs of the Alfred Gross Theater was standing room only (many teachers were present in addition to 7th and 8th grades), and you could have heard a pin drop throughout. She made it very personal, both in her words and in her use of her late father’s Shoah Foundation video testimony, which were quite powerful. I thought it was a ‘tour de force.'”
-Robert J. Katz, Member of the Board of Trustees and of the Executive Committee of the Board, USC Shoah Foundation for Visual History and Education; Senior Director, The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc; Emeritus Chair of the Horace Mann Board of Trustees.
“Thank you for giving me the privilege of being a part of this project. It’s truly an honor to participate in something so important, compelling, and meaningful. I don’t know that I have ever seen something that is so intensely personal and at the same time, so globally significant.”
-Adam Kenner, Director of Technology, Horace Mann School, Riverdale, NY
“Your presentation was wonderful and touching. Because of the artful way your organized the material and the video clips, I really felt like I knew your father, and I was able to appreciate the qualities he gained through his awful experiences. You also struck the right chord with your audience…I was watching the reaction of our students, and they were riveted to every word.”
-Anne Lawday, Middle School Teacher, Horace Mann School, Riverdale, NY
“Your presentation was magnetic, moving, gripping, all the right stuff. Your could hear a pin drop in that auditorium, which speaks volumes about how well you reached the seventh and eighth grade audience.”
-Lisa Moreira, Director of Admissions and Financial Aid, Horace Mann School, Riverdale, NY
“Sandy Rubenstein’s presentation is moving and impressive. Her focus of hope and strength of the human spirit rang true to us all.”
-Lis Harris, Staff Writer for the New Yorker for more than two decades.
“Mark it with a Stone is a remarkable and inspiring eyewitness account of one man’s triumphant survival against all odds. It is a story that is filled with despair and loss but also with hope. I highly recommend it.”
-Sherry Bard, Director of Education, USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education
“Sandy Rubenstein’s Holocaust presentation based on her father’s book, Mark it with a Stone along with his video testimony, was informative and very moving. The most compelling aspect was watching an auditorium filled with middle school students mesmerized by this personal and passionate story as an extraordinary history lesson came alive ."
-Nancy Schulman, the Director of the Nursery Division, Avenues, The World School, New York City
Facing History and Ourselves is an educational and professional development organization whose mission is to engage students of diverse backgrounds in an examination of racism, prejudice, and antisemitism in order to promote the development of a more humane and informed citizenry.
I cannot encapsulate to you, how grateful I am and how much I appreciate you sharing your story about your father. It really touched me. As a victim of Bosnian war and genocide, I was touched and one question still remained: “How come no one intervened?” Currently, I am teaching English at Our World Neighborhood Charter School in Astoria, Queens. I try to bring in my own experience and relate it some of the material in the classroom. When I came back from the Facing History seminar, I reflected on some of the things you have said and one thing in particular affected me deeply and I never thought of it. You talked about your mother and the fear of authority and bills and paying bills on time. That is typical of my father, who was shot and wounded by Serbs in 1994. He resides in Michigan with my mother and I just realized that the war made him the way he is today. He is constantly worried about authority and always checking up on me if I paid my own bills, as if someone will come and take everything away from him or take him to jail. That was really inspiring and it made me think deeper. Thank you for sharing your story and even though I have been through a war, I was deeply affected by the things you shared with us, for no genocide can be compared, however ought not to be forgotten.
“The students offered so many positive comments about your father’s story. They suggested you come in again next fall right after our unit on Schindler’s List…I agree and I hope you can. The students thought you presented well, with sincere passion, and that you answered their questions genuinely.”
-Karen Kosch, History Teacher, Pascack Valley High School
“It was my great pleasure to have you speak to the group yesterday. The story was profoundly moving, and I will never forget it. I purchased a copy of your father’s memoirs and look forward to reading the story. I would like to be in touch with you regarding a Holocaust program for our community for next spring.”
-Neil Tow, Rabbi, Glen Rock Jewish Center
“On behalf of all of us in the library and in the Horace Mann community, thanks so much for an absolutely fabulous afternoon last week. Your participation in our inaugural Book Fair Authors was a huge success. Thank you for sharing your family’s story.”
-Caroline Bartels, Head Librarian, Horace Mann School, Riverdale, NY
“Your presentation was so profound and moving that I will remember it always.”
-Susan Dym, English Teacher, Woodcliff Middle School
“It was our pleasure to have you speak to the students. Mr. Wright, who never likes any assemblies, loved hearing you speak. The 8 th graders loved listening to your story and were very moved. I think everyone will keep your story with them.”
-Liz Steiger, Parent Faculty Association, Woodcliff Middle School
“You are an amazing person. As you spoke today and told the story of your father, of your family, of your mom, I could not help thinking how proud he must be of you…You have given me so many ideas and ways to think of things! One of the themes I want the Middle School to adopt is your notion of “standing up.” I am so inspired by you and what you are doing.”
-Miton Sipp, Head of the Middle School, Riverdale Country Day, Riverdale, NY
I found the fact that Joseph is no longer alive and yet others can still listen to his voice, his thoughts, his feelings about what happened to him and his family during the war was the most moving.
I especially loved the clip where he speaks about his siblings. As he talks about his brothers and his sister, the love he feels for each of them is palpable. In many ways, this video and this presentation helps to keep their memory alive, so that "their ordeal will not have been in vain.”
-A student at Ridgewood High School, Ridgewood, NJ
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