"… but they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint." – Isaiah 41:30 (KJV)
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A Good Start to the New Year

I was recently browsing shelves at the Barnes & Noble located at Chesterfield Towne Center when I rounded a corner and came face to face with a copy of Izzy’s Fire in a center display of staff recommended books. The display also included Elie Wiesel’s Night and Primo Levi’s Survival at Auschwitz, among others. To say I was humbled, as well as delighted, would be an understatement.

While I had read most of the other books in the display, I did find a new one, The Happiest Man on Earth, by Eddie Jaku, a tattooed Auschwitz survivor who celebrated his 100th birthday in 2020. Needless to say, I added that book to my library. As Holocaust survivors leave us, there is an ever-growing number of memoirs and discoveries being published to commemorate that horrific event. Jaku’s memoir is an outstanding example of how he overcame the tragedy.  

Yom HaShoah is a special day designated to remember and commemorate the Holocaust. The name comes from the Hebrew word “shoah,” which means “complete burning.” In English, “holocaust,” as the Nazi intent, was the complete eradication of the Jewish people, and in the extermination camps, executed by use of industrial ovens. The commemoration can be different dates, as it follows the Jewish calendar. Yom HaShoah was established in Israel in 1959 by law. It falls on the 27th of the Jewish month of Nissan, a date chosen because it is the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising.

Yom HaShoah Commemoration at the Virginia Holocaust Museum. The Virginia Holocaust Museum’s annual Yom HaShoah commemoration will be held at 2 p.m. on Sunday, May 1, in the Choral Synagogue at the museum located at 2000 E. Cary St., Richmond. The program, which is free and open to the public, will include remarks by Executive Director Samuel Asher, the awarding of the Carole Weinstein Prizes for Tolerance and Justice in the Visual Arts to students, and the lighting of the Holocaust Memorial Candles. There is free off-street parking at the museum.

There will also be a musical performance by Batsheva, a singer/songwriter born in Canada who has found success in Nashville.
Her Polish-born mother and first-generation Lithuanian-Canadian father lived with her grandparents, who spoke Yiddish at home. From ages 6 to 21, she studied piano and cello at the Royal Conservatory of Music. She plays acoustic guitar and sings in Ladino, Yiddish, Hebrew and English, and is also a comedy writer.  She has performed with many of the leading Yiddish and Sephardic artists of our time in festivals and concerts in Israel, the United States, England and across Canada. (Text and photo: Courtesy of The Reflector, published by the Jewish Community Federation of Richmond (Va.))

The Virginia Holocaust Museum is celebrating its 25th anniversary. If you have not visited this local museum, I highly recommend you do so. Admission is free, and the museum is open almost every day, including weekends. Be sure to check the museum’s website for programs and holiday closures. 

The VHM has become internationally known and has had approximately 1.3 million visitors, including foreign dignitaries, since its inception.
Photo: Courtesy of the Virginia Holocaust Museum
I’d like to thank many of you for offering condolences, as well as making generous donations to Chutzpah and Courage, to commemorate the recent loss of my sister, Janet Watkins. She passed away in her home on Jan. 9, 2022, with Murphy, her faithful companion, by her side.
Janet Watkins and Murphy
Our new initiative, “An Inquiry into the Bravery of Upstanders: A Pilot Project for Holocaust Curriculum in Virginia Schools,” will begin soon at Swift Creek Middle School, led by Lynne Bland, a curriculum specialist for secondary social studies for Chesterfield County Public Schools, and Pamela Plahs, who chairs the social studies department at Swift Creek Middle School. 

Pam is one of the founding teachers of the 2021 program and will soon travel to Europe for educational research, funded in part by the Brandermill Rotary Club. Tina Tapp, who also taught the initial program last year at Radford High School, has been promoted to an administrative position there. We deeply appreciate Tina’s contributions and hope the program will continue at Radford High in the future, as well as in other Virginia schools.
Pam Plahs receives books generously provided by anonymous donors for upcoming classes at Swift Creek Middle School. Interested donors can now make classroom sets available and take the cost of the books as a tax deduction by donating to Chutzpah and Courage.
I’ve discovered a new virtual program that is free. Classrooms Without Borders has outstanding historical programs of interest to teachers and the public alike. The Classrooms Without Borders Curriculum Support Center is an online resource for finding and sharing effective lesson plans and curricula for teaching students about the Holocaust, genocide, hate, cultural differences and more. 

Nancy Wright Beasley
Author, Journalist
Recommended Reading
Irena’s Children by Tilar J. Mazzeo.
A breathtaking book describing courage beyond description. This book reveals the history of Irena Sendler, a Catholic social worker in Poland, who risked her life countless times, forming a cadre of individuals who saved more than 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto. Some helpers lost their lives in the endeavor. Although Sendler was arrested by the Nazis and brutally tortured, which included breaking her legs, she never revealed the name of her compatriots or any of the children saved.
Sendler was nominated for the Nobel Peace Prize in 2007, when it was awarded jointly to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and Albert Arnold (Al) Gore Jr. “for their efforts to build up and disseminate greater knowledge about man-made climate change, and to lay the foundations for the measures that are needed to counteract such change.”
Future Projects
I will soon introduce four new members to Chutzpah and Courage’s board of directors. In the last newsletter, I mentioned a special program planned for April. Unfortunately, it has been postponed. I promise to have a definite date and time for the upcoming performance in the next newsletter. Thanks for your patience, your prayers, as well as your important donations to continue this work.
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For photos and other information regarding the author,
March 17, 2022
Copyright © 2022 Nancy Wright Beasley, All rights reserved.

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