William J. Lowenberg Speakers Bureau

Speakers Bureau programs will be virtual for the 2020 – 21 academic year.

To request a speaker via Zoom for your school, please complete this Virtual Speakers Bureau Request Form at least two weeks before your preferred program date.

To request a speaker via Zoom for your company/organization, please complete this Virtual Speakers Bureau Request Form at least two weeks before your preferred program date.

Members of the William J. Lowenberg Speakers Bureau teach students and adults about the Holocaust and genocide through eyewitness testimony. Holocaust and genocide survivors as well as their descendants speak in classrooms, religious and lay institutions, companies, and community venues. Through firsthand accounts of the Holocaust, thousands of students and adults learn about the importance of tolerance, embracing diversity, and combating hatred.

The survivors and their descendants who speak have a variety of experiences that they will share. They are not historians; rather they are living witnesses who will testify regarding their individual experience. Some are:

  • Hidden Children
  • Kindertransport survivors
  • Refugees
  • Concentration camp survivors

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.

For questions, please contact Penny Savryn, Program Coordinator, at PennyS@jfcs.org.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do you define Holocaust survivor?
We define “survivor” as anyone targeted or persecuted by Nazis because of their Jewish heritage.

How do I arrange for a Holocaust survivor to speak virtually to my school or institution?

To request a speaker via Zoom for your school, please complete this Virtual Speakers Bureau Request Form at least two weeks before your preferred program date.

To request a speaker via Zoom for your company/organization, please complete this Virtual Speakers Bureau Request Form at least two weeks before your preferred program date.

For questions and consultations, please contact Penny Savryn, Program Coordinator, at PennyS@jfcs.org.

What is the appropriate age or grade to hear a Holocaust survivor speak?
Ages 12 and older; 7th grade and up

What preparation must my students have prior to hearing a survivor speaker?
Hearing a survivor speak is a supplement to your Holocaust or genocide curriculum and is not intended as a replacement for formal Holocaust or genocide study. Prior to inviting a speaker to address your class, please be sure to prepare your students with a unit about the Holocaust and/or genocide. For questions, please contact Penny Savryn, Program Coordinator, at PennyS@jfcs.org.

What happens after I send my request for a speaker?
A member of the Holocaust Center staff will confirm receipt of the request and 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, between the hours of 9:30 am and 5:00 pm, depending on their schedules. Survivors are not available in the early morning hours, in the evening, or on weekends. Please get in touch with us if your program must fall outside of these hours.

What kind of experiences will the speakers talk about?
The survivors who speak have a variety of 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 virtual 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 virtual program.

Community Impact

Members of the William J. Lowenberg Speakers Bureau make an incredible impact on their audiences both person and online. 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

Read more letter excerpts on the JFCS Holocaust Center blog >
WE CONTINUE TO REMEMBER
The JFCS Holocaust Center is a program of Jewish Family and Children’s Services of San Francisco, the Peninsula, Marin and Sonoma Counties. We are dedicated to the remembrance, research, documentation, and education about the Holocaust and patterns of genocide.

Your contribution goes towards educational programs that reach and inspire more than 25,000 students, teachers, and community members each year.
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