Thursday, May 28, 2015

Presentations, Preparation, and Polish Pensions

Well another month has come and gone. As of today I am a VISTA for only 93 short days! Where has the time gone!? On Tuesday I gave my first booster training session at JFS, the topic was “After the War: Displaced Persons Camps, and the Fate of Soviet Jews.” I had a pretty good turnout, about 28 staff members in all. We were able to discuss what life was like in the months and years after World War II and the Holocaust. Additionally, we discussed what life was like for Jews in Russia during and after the Holocaust. My next booster is at the end of June and will address the Nazi death camp system.

While preparing for the lecture I have also been preparing for a big trip. I have been invited to give a lecture about the Rwandan Genocide at the University of Giessen in Germany. I will leave on Monday and arrive and give my lecture on Tuesday. After some days at the university I will visit my original host student and her family from high school. I will then go on a road trip with a friend to visit all of the Nazi death camps in Poland. I will be able to see a couple of sites I’ve visited before, and many others that I have never had the opportunity to visit. This will be a great experience for me to learn and see firsthand the sites of the Holocaust. I can then take this experience and knowledge back to JFS to inform the training I will be doing a few weeks later on the Nazi death camp system.

One of the big things JFS has been doing recently, and I have had the opportunity to assist in the organization of, has been setting up clinics to help Survivors to apply for a newly available Polish Pension. For those that were Polish citizens and were persecuted/ oppressed they may be eligible for a small pension each month. We have utilized volunteers to take down the important information needed to fill out the application as well as their story as that is required. We are also using donor funds to pay to have this information translated so we can then fill out the application and send them off to Poland. It is a great experience to not only assist in setting these up, but to be able to help survivors seek the restitution they deserve. 

During the "After the War" JFS Training

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