What Teachers are Saying

Children’s Letters to a Holocaust Survivor: Dear Esther by Richard Rashke makes an excellent tool for educating students about the Holocaust. Please contact Kristen LePine, Executive Director of Historic Heroines, for information about lesson plans and discount pricing for bulk orders of Children’s Letters to a Holocaust Survivor: Dear Esther.

Barry Schwartz, Glenfield Middle School

Barry Schwartz, Glenfield Middle School

As an educator, I understand the rarity of finding a particular subject that targets a student’s passion. Esther Raab clearly has those tools to not only make students more knowledgeable about the events of the Holocaust, but also have them develop a deeper understanding of the struggles the survivors dealt with. As seen in the letters written to Esther, she clearly has a gift for inspiring others to identify social injustices and find ways to correct them. I applaud Richard Rashke for collecting this exuberant number of letters and allowing us as readers to see first-hand how they were touched by Esther Raab’s story. These letters only help make the play a more complete and compelling story.

Debbie Bruhn, 8th grade Special Education Teacher

Debbie Bruhn, 8th grade Special Education Teacher

The life of Esther Raab is brilliantly told through the play Dear Esther by Richard Rashke. The horrors of the Holocaust are presented in a way that draws the audience in emotionally and historically, but leaves them with a sense of victory for the individual spirit and survival. The strength and perseverance of Esther are cleverly crafted between the young and current “Esthers” which allows the viewer to connect with her on a personal level. Esther portrays the best humanity has to offer in a setting of pure evil and hatred. Incorporating Esther’s letters from the children enhances the story with the fresh, innocent perspective of youth. Students have been attending this play for years and their experience has been nothing less than extraordinary. Their lives are changed forever by the compassion they gain toward others and the faith that good outweighs evil in this world. This story brings to life a woman who exemplifies empowerment during a time in history that should never be forgotten. Thank you to Esther and her family for having the courage to share their story with the world and to Richard Rashke for having the vision to educate through this unique forum. A copy of Children’s Letters to a Holocaust Survivor: Dear Esther should be in every classroom. Having the children’s letters included with the play makes this book an invaluable resource.

Michelle Myers , Teacher, Sterling High School

Michelle Myers , Teacher, Sterling High School

Richard Rashke’s two-act play Dear Esther simply, but brilliantly conveys the heart-wrenching yet hopeful experiences of Holocaust survivor Esther Terner Raab, who escaped and ultimately survived the death camp Sobibor. Rashke’s play has had tremendous impact on my high school students because they were able to empathize with Esther’s physical hardships, emotional devastation and horrific losses. Weaving the story between Esther in the death camp and Esther as an older woman, and incorporating letters from students who have been impacted by Esther’s testimony, adds another element that deeply and personally connects the past and present for students. Many were touched by Esther’s bravery, but saddened that so many innocent people suffered from discrimination and hatred which led to the murder of millions. It is more important than ever as anti-Semitism and other forms of ethnic and religious hatred are emerging across the globe that students are exposed to and inspired by stories of survivors like Esther, who displayed incredible courage in the face of unspeakable barbarity. I believe Rashke’s Dear Esther inspires students to develop the character strength of bravery and deepens their understanding that silence and indifference perpetuate intolerance, bigotry and hate as demonstrated by ordinary people who chose to be silent and not intervene on behalf of the victims of the Holocaust.

Joe Burke, Paul VI High School Assistant Principal and 2012 Honey and Maurice Axelrod Award recipien

Joe Burke, Paul VI High School Assistant Principal and 2012 Honey and Maurice Axelrod Award recipien

Esther Raab’s story of escape and survival includes acts of courage and heroism that few of us can comprehend. However, her greater act of heroism might be the telling and retelling of her story to several generations of young people. The letters contained in this book, and the thousands of other letters written by children in response to Esther’s story, document the powerful impact that she has had on so many. The responses of the children give us hope that they will stand up against injustice, prejudice and hatred throughout their lives. As we learn Esther’s story through Escape from Sobibor and Dear Esther, and the stories of other Holocaust survivors, we are called to continue to bear witness to the horrors and lessons of the Holocaust when those heroes no longer can. The letters contained in this volume are a part of that witness.

Terri Orleno, Department of Children and Family Services-NJ

Terri Orleno, Department of Children and Family Services-NJ

Thank you for allowing me to read the book! The addition of the actual letters brings life to Esther's already poignant story. The depth of emotions revealed in the letters from students of all faith and backgrounds is evidence that Esther's story will be known for generations!

About Kristen LePine
KRISTEN LEPINE is the co-founder and Executive Director of Historic Heroines. An accomplished writer, educator and mother, Kristen is often inspired by history and current events. She wrote about Nellie Bly and mental health care in CRACKED POTS, a play commissioned by Theatre J in Washington DC. Currently she is working on a historical novel set in ancient Sparta. Visit her at www.kristenlepine.com.
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