Members of the William J. Lowenberg Speakers Bureau teach students and adults about the Holocaust through eyewitness testimony. Holocaust survivors speak in classrooms, religious and lay institutions and community venues.Through firsthand accounts of the Holocaust, thousands of students and Bay Area residents learn about the importance of tolerance, embracing diversity, and combating hatred.
The survivors who speak have a variety of Holocaust experiences that they will share. They are not historians; rather they are living witnesses who will testify regarding their individual experience. Some are:
All survivors have an important story to tell, and when inviting a speaker to your school or organization, we request that you be sensitive to and appreciative of each of their unique experiences.
We have also launched the Next Generation Speakers Bureau (NGSB) training program to guarantee that storytelling remains a hallmark of Holocaust education long after survivors are no longer around to meet with and inspire students. The NGSB empowers the descendants of Holocaust survivors to speak about their family’s history of the Holocaust and in so doing continue the legacy of Holocaust education through personal connection to the genocide.
To request a speaker for your school or institution, please complete a Speakers Bureau Request Form at least four (4) weeks before your preferred program date. For questions, please contact Adrian Schrek, Director of Educator Development, at AdrianS@jfcs.org or 415-449-1291.
How do I arrange for a Holocaust survivor to speak at my school or institution?
To request a speaker for your school or institution, please complete a Speakers Bureau Request Form at least four (4) weeks before your preferred program date. For questions, please contact Nikki Bambauer, Program Coordinator, at NikkiB@jfcs.org or 415-449-3717.
What is the appropriate age or grade to hear a Holocaust survivor speak?
Ages 12 and older.
What preparation must my students have prior to hearing a survivor speaker?
Hearing a survivor speak is a supplement to your Holocaust curriculum and is not intended as a replacement for formal Holocaust study. Prior to inviting a speaker to address your class, please be sure to prepare your students with a unit about the Holocaust. For advice about materials and curricula, you can schedule a consultation with Adrian Schrek, Director of Educator Development, at AdrianS@jfcs.org or 415-449-1291.
What happens after I send my request for a speaker?
You will receive confirmation of your request via email within 3 business days. A member of the Holocaust Center staff will then contact a speaker who is considered to be a good fit for your program.
When are survivors available to speak?
Survivors are available to speak on weekdays and Sundays, between the hours of 10:00 am and 4:00 pm, depending on their schedules. Survivors are not available in the early morning hours, in the evening, or on Saturdays. Speakers who have been trained as part of our Next Generation Speakers Bureau are available for evening programs.
What kind of experiences will the speakers talk about?
The survivors who speak have a variety of Holocaust experiences that they will share. They are not historians; rather they are living witnesses who will testify regarding their individual experience. Some were hidden children or on the Kindertransport; some are concentration camp survivors; and some were refugees. Each has an important story to tell, and we request that you be sensitive to and appreciative of each of their unique experiences.
How long should I expect the survivor to speak?
Please plan for a minimum of 60 minutes for the speaker. In most cases, we recommend 75 minutes to include a Q&A period following their presentation. Remember that the speakers are describing complex and traumatic events, and should not be expected to abbreviate their stories. If there is not an hour available, please discuss this with our staff before requesting a speaker for your school or organization.
Can a speaker present to more than one class/group during their visit?
Sharing about their experiences during the Holocaust can be physically and emotionally draining for our speakers. In order to look after their well-being, we do not schedule survivors to give more than one presentation per day. Should you wish for the speaker to address multiple groups in one day, we suggest combining the groups into a larger assembly program.
Members of the William J. Lowenberg Speakers Bureau make an incredible impact on their audiences. These notes, written after hearing a survivor’s presentation, come from students and educators throughout the Bay Area.
“I think you are one of the strongest people I have ever met […] Thank you for sharing your story with us. There are no words to describe how grateful I am to you. You have truly made me a better person.” — 8th grade student, Katherine Delmar Burke School
“You truly are an inspiration to our generation and many other generations to come. Thank you for not only taking your time out, but also for helping us students realize that we are extremely lucky and that we should express our gratitude more often.” — 10th grade student, Capuchino High School
“I’m so glad I got to know you. Let me tell you this, I have this ring that belonged to my mom when she was a kid and it has three little diamonds on it. The first diamond represents my mom, and the second represents you. The diamonds represent people I look up to. I still have many days to figure out who the third person is. But, I knew, as soon as I saw you, and heard your story, you would be one of the diamonds.” — 8th grade student, De Marillac Academy
“Segregation, discrimination, and prejudice have kept the world separated for thousands of years, and I think that if we fight hard enough, we could be the generation to end it.” — 8th grade student, Mill Valley Middle School
“You were thoughtful and kind, and the way you live by the golden rule was apparent and contagious. As a young person learning new things every day, and forming the opinions that will carry me through adulthood, I wanted to say thank you!” — 10th grade student, The Bay School
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