News & Updates

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News of the Week – 4/17/15

The 34th Greater Lafayette Holocaust Remembrance Conference at Purdue University was a powerful statement about the Holocaust. Thank you Sarah Powley for being the perfect host to author, Jack Mayer and myself. We enjoyed presenting on a number of occasions. We were greatly impressed with the McCutcheon High School students and their Life in a Jar performances, also impressed with their teacher, Stella Schafer. Danny Spungen had a wonderful presentation on artifacts from the Holocaust. We were moved by the survivor memories of Anna Berkovitz and Fritz Cohen. The entire conference was an incredible experience. 
News:
Congratulations author Jack Mayer! Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project has won the 2015 First Horizon Award for the current Eric Hoffer Award season. The First Horizon Award is given each year to the highest scoring books by debut authors. This is a special distinction beneath the Eric Hoffer Award umbrella. (Jack Mayer’s book is still being considered for category, press, and grand prizes.)  
Dear Norm,

Thanks for keeping me on the”  News of the Week”. I loved seeing the performance at Skidmore and reuniting with you and Jack again! And it was so wonderful to meet Megan and hold the beautiful heart necklace during the amazing and moving performance! Thank you so much for the honor. Please keep me on the list that tells everything about what you are doing and where you are going. All your  friends have friends in other cities and it is the best way to spread the word as well as get  new supporters when we can tell friends to meet you in their cities.
Tonight I am going to the opening of the KING AND I with the super stars Kelli O’Hara and Ken Watanabe at Lincoln Center and am looking forward to it but you must know that I was even more excited at the thought of seeing LIFE IN A JAR as I drove up to Saratoga Springs two weeks ago!  And you went beyond my greatest expectations in your presentation honoring  the life and work of Irena Sendler. Bravo & Brava  to you, Jack & the entire cast!
I am honored and humbled to know you , Jack and Megan and to be part of Life in a Jar!
Fondly,
Patti Kenner
 

Dear Mr. Conard,
Your recent visit to Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, New York was a gift to those of us present to experience and learn about Irena Sendler and the Life in a Jar project. Amazed to read Jack Mayer’s book and view the DVD of her story. What a privilege to hear both of you share the history, play and watch the young actors. We thank you and are inspired to make a difference in our area.
Blessings, Neal and Betsy Boudette- Halfmoon, New York 

News of the Week – 4/7/15

Wow and more!!!!!!
Life in a Jar experienced three incredible presentations at Skidmore College in Saratoga, New York and at Elms College in Chicopee, MA with some of the most enthusiastic audiences we have ever seen.
A big thanks to Lollie Abramson at Skidmore and Amy Nee at Elms College for organizing the venues.
But the thank you list doesn’t end there:
Jack Mayer, the author of Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project, was a ‘rock star’ at these presentations. Jack signed many autographs and added much to the programs with his presentations and Q & A. Thanks Jack for helping with the presentation of Irena’s heart necklace to Ashley, so emotional.
Speaking of ‘rock stars,’ the cast was at its best; Megan, Ashley, Mary, Erin and Noah. Plus Heather Griffith, originally from Saratoga Springs, provided so much assistance.
Auden Thomas of Skidmore was of great assistance.
The Skidmore program was done so well, we are using it as a future template.
We love and appreciated Lanie Oshlag, thanks for the beautiful notes.
From Elms, there were so many, Professor Scott, Maureen, the Social Work Department, those with the Polish reception, the exhibition from Auschwitz (powerful) and so many others.
What a delight to see many of our friends come up from NYC, Patti Keener provided a wonderful surprise with her visit.
From the New York venue:
“This is the first moment I have had to myself to sit and write you a note to thank you for coming out to Skidmore.  I want you  to know how deeply moved I was to be  a ‘witness’ to your remarkable program LIFE IN A JAR.   I am purposely using the word ‘Witness’, as we are all aware of  its meaning.
I have rec’d several phone calls and emails from people in the audience that raved about the presentation, and also expressed their thanks to you all for bringing this program to our area.  The impact of the LIAJ foundation continues to grow and the story of Irena Sendler will not be lost to the world.  Amazing.”
From Elms:
Elms was honored to host the Western Massachusetts premiere of the play “Life in a Jar / Irena Sendler Project.” This play tells the awe-inspiring story of Polish social worker Irena Sendler and a group of other young Polish women who outfoxed the Nazis during World War II to save the lives of 2,500 Jewish children living in the Warsaw Ghetto. Yesterday, the original production company that “discovered” Sendler’s story and created the play visited campus for a performance and Q&A. Veritas was packed, and the gave a standing ovation at the end.

This celebration of Irena Sendler’s life and work is the second event in a series of two presented by Elms College; Women’s Philanthropy, a division of the Jewish Federation of Western Massachusetts; the Kosciuszko Foundation, New England Chapter; the Polish Center of Discovery and Learning; and a generous grant from the Jewish Endowment Foundation of Western Massachusetts’ Harold Grinspoon & Diane Troderman Hatikvah Holocaust Education Fund.

News of the Week – 2/17/2015

Irena Sendler would have been 105 this Sunday, February 15th. We remember her beautiful and courageous heart.

What a wonderful event in London at Chabad Belgravia. Rabbi Mendel did a beautiful job of arranging the event. We shared the story of Irena Sendler and much more. A man who had been part of the Kindertransport was in the audience. Also, Nadine Wojakovski, who wrote, “Two Prayers at Bedtime,” a powerful book of her family and the Holocaust was in attendance. Many ideas were formulated about more collaboration with Holocaust education.

This note comes from Rabbi Mendel: “I wanted to thank you very much on behalf of our community for making the trip to London to share the incredible story of Irena Sendler, and that of your inspiring class project and wonderful students! You really touched the heartstrings of those who attended your lecture, and I believe the impact will continue to reverberate into the future! Your humility, altruism, and passion are truly refreshing and inspiring.

I look forward to being in touch and exploring ways in which we can work together.”

Elizabeth (Liz) Cambers Hutton to present:

Lebanon, Missouri, High School Teacher to Participate in Discussion

Elizabeth (Liz) Hutton is now a teacher at Lebanon High School. She grew up in rural Kansas, never dreaming that a school project would take her to Poland, where she would meet one of the great heroines of World War II.

Lily Isaacs is one of the most celebrated gospel music singers in America, having won most of the major awards, including gospel’s highest honor, the Dove. She was born a Polish Jew, the daughter of two Holocaust survivors.

Liz and Lily will be together at Hillcrest Baptist Church, 299 Hoover Avenue in Lebanon, at 4 p.m., Friday, March 13, where they will tell their stories. All Lebanon school system teachers and staff are invited to attend.

For Lily, it’s a deeply personal experience, her own parents’ imprisonment during the war for no reason other than their nationality and faith, and their struggles to survive the war, including a brush with the gas chamber. Following the war they married and later brought two-year-old Lily to America.

For Liz, it’s her perseverance to find the truth, even though it occurred across an ocean and in another generation, that uncovered the terrible living conditions of those imprisoned and the woman who rescued an estimated 2,500 babies and children from almost certain death, twice the number saved by Oskar Schindler, as chronicled in the award-winning movie Schindler’s List. The woman’s name was Irena Sendler and her accomplishments were mostly unknown until Liz and three classmates wrote and performed a play that would shine a light on her accomplishments and win her the world’s recognition and admiration, including a nomination for the Nobel Peace Prize. The girls received their share of attention as well, appearing on CNN and The Today Show and being featured by many publications such as Ladies Home Journal.  

The program is free and open to the public. It is being presented by the Lebanon Host Lions Club in association with a concert by the Isaacs at 7 p.m. at the Cowan Civic Center. Tickets for the concert are on sale at Morgan Music in Lebanon or by calling 417-532-7402.

News of the Week – 3/4/2014

Ivan Obert, social studies teacher at Joplin South Middle School in Joplin, MO, did a beautiful job in preparing our Life in a Jar venue. On a cold and icy night, we had a large and enthusiastic crowd for the Life in a Jar performance. We salute Ivan and all of those who assisted him.

From Montreal comes this note: “Your project is awesome, may you be granted the health and strength to continue bringing this project to many.”

The Irena Sendler website is starting its 11th year. The site has just passed 46 million hits!!

The next Life in a Jar performance will be in Salem, Oregon on the second weekend in April. See the website calendar for details. Following Oregon will be a weekend performance in Rockville, MD.

Happy New Year!

Happy New Year to all of our Life in a Jar friends and family.

We are in our 15th year of Life in a Jar and continue to be committed to making Irena Sendler’s story, the story of survivors, and other rescuers known to the world. Reme Lichtman a child survivor wrote the following about Renata Zajdman, “Our dear friend Renata Zajdman passed away on November 27, 2013. She was a great lady, “larger than life”, a Warsaw Ghetto survivor, a very close friend of Irena Sendlerowa, or Sendler, for many years before Irena became well known. Renata travelled frequently with the High School theatre group from Kansas who performed the play about Irena called “Life in a Jar.” Renata was also an intellectual, very well read, full of information, always wanting to share what she knew.”

Disappearing Traces: Holocaust Testimonials, Ethics, and Aesthetics written by Dorota Glowacka is a powerful book that examines the tensions between the ethical and aesthetic imperatives in literary, artistic, and philosophical works about the Holocaust, in a search for new ways to understand the traumatic past and its impact.

Canadian Presentations

Renata ZajdmanCheers to Canada and the wonderful venues over the week-end!

Solel Congregation in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada, was a wonderful venue as the stories of unsung heroes in history were shared. The story of Irena Sendler was presented to a beautiful congregation. A big ‘thank you’ to Rabbi Lawrence Englander and organizer Arlene Botnick. This is a great congregation and we salute the Rabbi, who is retiring after forty years. Thanks Arlene, we continue to receive many emails. Halifax, Nova Scotia, hosted two venues over the weekend. The first was the University of King’s College with a standing room only crowd.

Renata Zajdman, saved from the Warsaw Ghetto at age 14, presented along with Norm Conard. The audience was special and included organizers, Dorota Glowacka (author and professor on the Holocaust) and Edna Levine (Director of Community Engagement of the Atlantic Jewish Council). They were the perfect hosts and not only set up the venue, but also showed the movie, The Courageous Heart of Irena Sendler.

Later, a presentation by Renata and Norman was given at Citadel High School in Halifax. The students had great questions and responded with a standing ovation. This was a tremendous weekend of remembrance in Canada. ***Renata has been ill, but is such a warrior, never failing to tell the world, ‘never again.’ She was traveling with her children Michael & Sharon and friend, Howard Inhaber.

Summer of 2013

Great email from Berlin:

My special Irena experience, It would have been very easy to ask someone where to find Irena Sendler’s tree in Yad Vashem or look up in a brochure. But sometimes I am a bit stubborn (come on, I’ve been researching for months now, I must find a/her tree). So I thought I’d go find it for myself. (Being back home I knew it was my way to deal with all the special emotions at this place. Looking for a tree was something concrete – a good task for a German in Yad Vashem!) I had no clue So many trees. Goodness, where to start? 1 h later I was a little upset. Sun was blazing. I sat down on a bench. Then my daughters came back from the exhibition. Saw me being a bit sad. Josefine said: “O Mom, how wonderful, you found her tree. That was easy so close to the entrance, right?” I looked at her and then in front of me. There I was sitting a couple of inches next to Irena’s tree for 15 min, in silence and a bit sad and didn’t even know I was that close. Tears, tears, so many tears for so many reasons I can tell you. Thank you so much for all you’ve done and still do for Irena’s story. I will do here in Berlin my small, humble contribution. Keep in touch.

Best,
Katrin

A beautiful note from Drew University in Madison, New Jersey:

Dear Norman, Megan, Jaime, Madyson, Mary, Joseph & Mr. Berndt,

Once more, I would like to express my deepest gratitude to you for your beautiful performance of Life in a Jar at Drew University! It was such a dream come true to meet you in person. Having you perform the play was a highlight of my time in college! Your performance touched the lives of so many people that night, even inspiring teachers to incorporate Life in a Jar into their classrooms. I would also like to thank you for sharing Irena Sendler’s story with the world. Without you, the story would have been lost forever. I appreciate all that you and the Life in a Jar Foundation keeps doing to honor the lives of unsung heroes. You also have educated others about the difference on person can make. Thank you for being the heroes and bringing Irena world-recognition! I can feel her spirit during the performances of the play! If only I could show you how grateful I am to your tireless efforts in sharing a very important piece of history that teaches the true meaning of humanity. 

Nicole Kuruszko

P.S. I intend to stay involved in helping the Life in a Jar Foundation, and so I am appreciative to have the opportunity to assist in any way that I can!

This morning, August 19, 2013, Life in a Jar/the Irena Sendler Project, was the number 1 Holocaust book in the world, out of the 6,000 Holocaust books on Amazon.com.

Life in a Jar book in Polish

Here is a summary from author Jack Mayer. The summary is about his trip to Poland for the publishing of Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project in Polish.

Great work, Jack.

POLISH TRANSLATION PUBLISHED – MAY 8, 2013

The Polish translation of LIFE IN A JAR: The Irena Sendler Project has been published in Poland. My wife Chip and I had the honor of being in Warsaw for 3 days (May 5-8) for the release of the translation published by Andrzej Findeisen (AMF Plus Group). It is spring and a new wind is blowing in Poland. I had a full schedule of interviews with the Polish Deputy Foreign Minister, radio, TV, newspapers, the Catholic Information Agency, literary magazines and a presentation at the brand new Museum of the History of Polish Jews. The highlight of the trip was spending an afternoon with the students, teachers, and the remarkable principal of the Irena Sendler School in Warsaw (there are 25 schools in Poland named for Irena!). The students were wonderful and eager to learn more about the hero for whom their school was named. Elzbieta Ficowska, who was rescued as an infant by Irena, was with me for several presentations. There were many emotional and heartfelt moments. None of this would have been possible without the invaluable assistance of Kinga Krzeminska and Taida Meredith, our most extraordinary translators. At the Museum of the History of Polish Jews, I participated in a panel with Marzanna Pogorzelska, who has founded the Lowell Milken Center in Poland (Kedzierzyn-Kozle, Poland) to carry on the mission of the Kansas center. The book’s official release came on May 8th at EMPiK, the largest book retailer in Poland. (Similar to our Barnes & Noble.) Its release coincides with the 70th anniversary commemoration of the Jewish Ghetto Uprising against the Germans, April 19 – May 16, 1943. I am warmed to know that Polish readers will now read my book and contribute to Tikkun Olam – “repairing the world.”

Best Selling Books and Authors

The Life in a Jar cast, teacher and JACK MAYER, author of the award winning book, ‘Life in a Jar/the Irena Sendler Project,’ will be in Fort Scott, Kansas on Saturday, April 13th to share, discuss and AUTOGRAPH the ‘Life in a Jar’ book.’

Healing in the Heartland,’ a Holocaust literature lecture and discussion will be held at 10AM. The location is the Ellis Fine Arts Center on the Fort Scott Community College campus.

Also, JENNA BLUM, the New York Times best-selling author will be speaking and signing books. Her Holocaust novel, ‘Those Who Save Us,’ was and is a national favorite. Matthew Thompson of the Eisenhower Presidential Library in Abilene, Kansas will also be present to discuss Eisenhower’s role in ensuring that the Nazis’ crimes against humanity were documented.

THIS POWERFUL TIME IS OPEN TO THE PUBLIC AND FREE OF CHARGE. Please notify us if you are bringing a large group, so we can reserve seats: contact-Megan Felt at the Lowell Milken Center – 620.223.9991 or lmcfelt@gmail.com

Number two Holocaust book!!!!!!

The Life in a Jar/Irena Sendler Project book was #2 of all Holocaust books on amazon.com, last week.

Here are some reviews on the book:

The Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project book has become a great Holiday gift (Hanukkah, Christmas, etc.) here are some beautiful comments on the book, from the internet.

Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project, November 24, 2012
Not at all my usual type of read, but I was riveted, Even researched Irena further. I had a “book hangover” after it. Couldnt find anything that was going to be as good or move me as much. What an insipiring woman.  5.0 out of 5 stars

Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project, November 22, 2012 By Jane Trivers
Well written – compassion balanced with accuracy – tough to do and was accomplished! Easy to read – adult and teen friendly!  5.0 out of 5 stars

Life in a Jar: The Irena Sendler Project, November 11, 2012 By Cindy L. Steiner (san deigo ca)
Would love to see this book as part of every school curriculum. A great reminder of what just one person can do, in the face of evil. One of my favorite books in a while, could not put it down. I am so glad that this beautiful story was brought to light. 5.0 out of 5 stars

Repairing the World, September 29, 2012 By EM (Bristol, VT USA)
This is a fantastic book. It tells the story of a Catholic social worker (Irena Sendler) who smuggled 2500 Jewish children out of the Warsaw ghetto. She was a minor footnote in Holocaust history until three teens from a small town in Kansas decided to write a play about her for a history day project. The book also tells the story of the teens and their research. As someone else said it’s not a book to read in public as it has many parts at which one is likely to get very choked up. I was surprised to be as much or more engrossed in the story of the Kansas teens as I was in the story of Irena Sendler. Truly two incredible true stories that we all should know. I am going to read it aloud to my ten and eleven year old but would normally recommend it for teens and up. The vocabulary is a little difficult for younger readers and the subject matter definitely something to be approached carefully. I would love to see this book used in high school classes. I would recommend it to everybody but especially those interested in teaching history, the Holocaust, and/or Polish history.

By John (BURLINGTON, VT, United States)
I don’t begin to understand why this book isn’t a widely-read best seller. It should be! If I had to pick only one book to illustrate the best and worst of humanity, this would be it. The Holocaust holds an immensely painful lesson, but one that humanity can ill-afford not to re-teach. This book balances that pain with inspiration and discovery. It is the most remarkable story of heroism I have ever read. At the same time, it is the compelling story of three wonderful Kansas teens who scoop historians to re-discover Irena Sendler and honor her in her later years. Warning: read with a box of tissues nearby.

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