Historic Heroines launched its Tolerance Education Program, “Never Forget Esther,” by creating and donating 150 copies of the Classroom Edition of Children’s Letters to a Holocaust Survivor: Dear Esther by Richard Rashke. Three New Jersey schools—Lumberton Middle School in Lumberton, Paul VI High School in Haddon Township, and Woodland Middle School in Barrington received the books and will use them in the 2017-18 school year These schools were selected by Helen Kirschbaum Director of the Esther Raab Holocaust Museum & Goodwin Education Center in Cherry Hill, New Jersey. Each school received 50 books courtesy of a grant by Dear Esther Productions of Atlantic City, New Jersey. The grant not only made the book donation possible, the funding helped Historic Heroines develop the educational resource materials included in the new Classroom Edition of Children’s Letters to a Holocaust Survivor to be used to support and extend History, Literature, Drama, ESOL classrooms and school-based Tolerance and Anti-Bullying programs.
The “Never Forget Esther” Tolerance and Education Program is the brainchild of Kristen LePine, Executive Director of Historic Heroines. “After publishing Children’s Letters to a Holocaust Survivor in early 2016, we knew that we had something special on our hands,” LePine said. “Educators who read the book were very enthusiastic, calling it a ‘gift for inspiring others to identify social injustices and find ways to correct them,’ and encouraging ‘students to develop the character strength of bravery and deepens their understanding that silence and indifference perpetuate intolerance, bigotry and hate.’ Another educator said, ‘A copy of Children’s Letters to a Holocaust Survivor: Dear Esther should be in every classroom.’ These affirmations led us to seek funding to develop a Classroom Edition of Children’s Letters to a Holocaust Survivor: Dear Esther to help educators discuss and deal with the very real experiences happening globally, locally, and personally of intolerance and bigotry.”
The new Classroom Edition of Children’s Letters to a Holocaust Survivor: Dear Esther is divided into three sections: Children’s Letters; Dear Esther, the play; and Classroom Activities. The Children’s Letters section contains a curated collection of actual letters, poems, and drawings penned by middle school and high school students in response to seeing the movie Escape from Sobibor, based on Esther Raab’s experiences as a prisoner in Sobibor, a Nazi death camp in eastern Poland; witnessing a live performance of the play Dear Esther; and/or listening to Esther speak at schools about her experiences during and after her imprisonment. The Dear Esther section contains the two-act play Dear Esther written by Richard Rashke in collaboration with Esther, whom he interviewed extensively for his book Escape from Sobibor. The Classroom Activities section contains suggested exercises and activities for classroom discussion, small group activities, large school-wide ideas, artistic endeavors, individual writing prompts, and more.
Historic Heroines wants to see the Classroom Edition of Children’s Letters to a Holocaust Survivor: Dear Esther in more schools, and is actively seeking donations and school interest. To fund a school or participate as a school in the “Never Forget Esther” Tolerance and Anti-bullying Program, please contact Ms. LePine at email@example.com or visit Historic Heroines online at http://historicheroines.org.
Based in Forest Hill, Maryland, a suburb of Baltimore, Historic Heroines is a non-profit, independent book publisher and education provider that exists to champion the female voice in history by sharing fiction and non-fiction stories told through the feminine lens. Washington, D.C. non-fiction writer, Richard Rashke is the author of The Whistleblower’s Dilemma: Snowden, Silkwood and Their Quest for the Truth, Escape from Sobibor, The Killing of Karen Silkwood, and Useful Enemies: John Demjanjuk and America’s Open-Door Policy For Nazi War Criminals. His works have been translated into eleven languages and have been the subject of movies for screen and television.