Several years ago, as a school administrator, I joined a group of teachers from my school in attending a highly inspirational conference regarding the Holocaust. The keynote speaker, Gerda Weissmann Klein, spoke of her years of suffering in several German concentration camps. As the war neared its end and as the Allied forces descended upon the Nazis, Klein and her fellow prisoners were forced to embark upon a "Death March” of 350 miles, walking through treacherous winter conditions with little food and little clothing for warmth. Four thousand prisoners began the march; fewer than 120 survived.
Shortly after arriving in what is now part of the Czech Republic, World War II ended and camp prisoners were liberated. Gerda fell in love with one of the American soldiers involved in that mission. She and Army Lieutenant Kurt Klein were married the next year. Together, they infused their testimony and messages of hope into numerous charitable efforts to educate others about the Holocaust, civil rights, and tolerance. They spoke to all who would listen, to all who would take that message and carry it forward themselves.
I listened intently.
A few minutes into the presentation, a young red-haired woman in her thirties entered the synagogue and made her way to the seat directly in front of me. She looked familiar but, as so often happens to this veteran teacher, I could not place her name or where I had seen her before. I turned my attention back to Mrs. Klein, but the identity of the mysterious woman, now partially blocking my view of the stage, continued to nag at me.