Photo above taken one year ago:
Vickie and I (above) are “embedded” in “our” class at the Holstenschule in Neumünster!
After they studied the life and journeys of Vickie’s mother, Stefanie Steinberg, from Breslau, to Barcelona to an orphanage in Switzerland to NYC to LA and ultimately to San Francisco last year, class members sent her voice messages in German saying what the experience meant to them.
They touched my mother-in-law’s heart.
When we first decided to go to Germany, Vickie’s mother was not thrilled, but these messages warmed her heart. In January we had the privilege of presenting her an honorary Abitur (diploma) with a beautiful letter written by the Head of School, thanking Stefanie for contributing so meaningfully to the students’ learning experience. Stefanie’s eyes welled up with tears as she read the letter.
Although she still paints, works on her computer and attends classes and lectures at 94, the Nazis deprived her of the opportunity to complete her high school education. Now she is grateful that the Holstenschule has put a missing piece of her life in its proper place.
We visited this class again this past Thursday.
“Our” students are now ready to graduate HS and move on to the next phase of their lives. It was a joy to see them. They looked more mature than they did a year ago. They were pleased to see us too, and one of them actually invited us to come to their Abitur Ball in July. Although we cannot make it, Vickie and I are so touched that they asked.
As time moves forward I hope these students will always feel gratified that they helped ease a wonderful woman’s pain from the Nazi era. Their enthusiasm for the project also opened the door to the exhibit being on display in eight different schools this year.
In Pirke Avot (Ethics of the Fathers 4:2) Ben Azzai taught: “מצוה גררת מצוה One good deed leads to another.” By embracing the Back Home?! exhibit about the life and journeys of Stefanie Steinberg so enthusiastically, these students set in motion a chain reaction of good deeds.
Not only did they ease the pain of an elderly woman, they enabled many other students to learn a bit about the Shoah in a unique way. Who knows what other doors will open in the future?
Indeed, מצוה גררת מצוה One good deed leads to another!