Shalhevet 2007 Trip to Poland & Israel: 5-19 March 2007

Nagymama and Nagypapa accompanied the Shalhevet 2007 trip to Poland and Israel as the two Holocaust survivors. Here are some related events and links.

3 March 2007: A second bar mitzvah speech, published in the April 2007 Voice of Temple Beth Jacob, on pages ten and fifteen.

15 April 2007. Nagypapa and Nagymama were honored at Congregation Emanu El of San Francisco at the Yom Hashoah V'Hagevurah celebration. Shalhevet 2007 participant Lauren Michaels read a poem "For George and Iby" she wrote after visiting Yad Vashem in Jerusalem as part of the program.

16 April 2007: Nagypapa attended a special session of the California State Assembly in Sacramento, in observance of California Holocaust Memorial Week, April 16-22, 2007. He was seated, with other Holocaust survivors, as a guest of the state legislators on the Assembly floor, while the Assembly passed a special resolution commemorating the Holocaust.

29 April 2007: Nagypapa and Nagymama were the featured speakers of the plenary opening session of the Day of Learning 2007, an annual event of the Holocaust Center of Northern California in San Francisco.

20 May 2007: Nagymama and Nagypapa passed the torch at Shalhevet Graduation.

1 July 2007: "Passing the Shalhevet Torch," was published in the July/August 2007 issue of The Voice, the monthly newsletter of Temple Beth Jacob . See page 7.

July 2007 Nagymama and Nagypapa were featured in two articles in the Summer 2007 issue of Yadeinu, (Hebrew for: our hands), the latest newsletter of the Holocaust Center of Northern California. A report of the “Day of Learning” on April 20, 2007, and a report on the Shalhevet 2007 project. The articles include quotes from both Nagymama and Nagypapa A large photograph shows Nagypapa holding up a four foot banner with the inscription “Its Possible.” A highlighted box quotes Nagypapa: “The one thing no one can ever take from you is your education: never forget that."

3 August 2007: "The Top of the Wall" was published in the online story blog Common Ties.

12 August 2007: Nagypapa invited the Shalhevet graduates to a Strudel Party, and subsequently composed the story: The Strudel Party.

December 2007: The Shalhevet 2008 flyer includes a picture of Nagymama and Nagypapa walking in the Majdanek Concentration Camp during their Shalhevet 2007 trip in March 2007.

Kryat Shmona: Drums and Dancing

Tel Aviv & Jerusalem

Zfad: Ice Cream & Synagogue

Yad Vashem: Entry & Talk

Passing the torch

Shalhevet Graduation: 20 May 2007, Holocaust Center in San Francisco

Nagymama handing Becca Bronstein her personal flaming torch.
Nagymama and Nagypapa with two Shalhevet participants holding their flaming torches.
Nagypapa talks about passing the torch
Morgan Blum and Yaron Lipschitz, leaders of the Shalhevet 2007 project, presenting Nagypapa and Nagymama a photograph taken at the Majdanek Concentration camp in Poland.

Shalhevet 2007 - Siyyum

Passing the Torch
HCNC San Francisco, 20 May 2007

Today we celebrate. We traveled together to Poland and to Israel, to learn about the Holocaust and to remember our six million Martyrs. I talked about Tikvah, our hope and faith and Tikkun Olam, how we can make this a better world.

After the end of World War II, I worked for a year for the United Nations (UNRRA) in Austria, helping to manage a large Displaced Persons camp of 2400 survivors. We were all searching for a better future, and we all yearned for the promises of the Promised Land.

During our trip, when I talked about the day of my liberation, you heard my message: Am Yisrael Chai, we are alive! We can make it. The time to start rebuilding is now!

I was granted the ultimate gift and privilege I could hope for: I went to the Promised Land and I saw the Promised Land. And it was beautiful.

When we visited Yad Vashem, while I sat in a wheel chair, several of you helped me all day, so I could see this magnificent museum. Thank you. You have shown me a great deal of kindness.

During the trip, we talked about the Four Banners of Survival.

It's Possible
I made it this far
It ain't over, till it's over
Keep going, no matter what

Growing up in Hungary, my parents taught me, that the only thing we own that nobody can ever take away from us is our education. And I added that everything I learned during my 83 years can be said in a single sentence that fits on a button:

We have little control of events around us, But we can control the way we react!

On the last day of our trip in Israel, I found the strength to walk all day, to climb the many stairs to the Western Wall, the Kotel. I said the blessing of Shechecheyonu, Boruch Hashem! I reached this day!

In two weeks we absorbed a lifetime of experiences: There is a fifth question at our Seders now. Each of us asks herself or himself: What did I do since last Passover to enhance the cause of freedom?

Leading the trip, Morgan and Yaron were the greatest, showing a high level of sensitivity and professionalism. Our two educators, Yael and Zac were terrific; Doctor Nirit was there for us all the time to keep us in good health.

We traveled with the most wonderful, caring and concerned group of young people. You all passed the gleam in the eye test with flying colors. You made this trip exceptionally special.

Iby and I are grateful to all of you for everything you have done for us on this wonderful Shalhevet journey.

Thank You.

George Heller

In addition to receiving their diplomas for participating in the Shalhevet 2007 program, each student also received her/his own personal flaming torch from Iby and George Heller, the Holocaust survivors traveling with them.

Heller Web Space: Images - Notes - Travel - Memories