Dear Ruthy and Scott,
I want to share with you the feelings I am experiencing now as a result of the talk I gave at the Julian School. It is going to be hard to put into words, because in a way, what happened there had little to do with me. I was nervous but confident that if I was myself, and just told my story, I could get through to these nice youngsters. There were more than fifty of them, and at first I could tell by the expression on some of their faces, that they had this attitude of “why do I have to sit through this.”
As I began to tell my story, I could slowly see a transformation in their disposition. They became very attentive and followed my speech with interest. I was able to relate to them partially because I told them that I was experiencing these events when I was their age. I talked about how I felt when I was lined up to be shot, or my horror at being put on a freight car. I told them how at first all of these happenings had a quality of adventure about them. It was only later on when I had lost my brother and father, that I became frightened and felt powerless. I related to them meeting my uncle and favorite cousins, in a separate camp, and how I had to turn off my feelings and emotions and my natural desire to stay with them, because I somehow knew that if I remained in that place I would have died. That is what happened, but many times I have felt the guilt, that if I truly loved them, I would have stayed with them. I told them that you, Ruth, had turned to me at Passover, and told me that you felt so lucky that you were born. That meant a lot to me. By now a few of the girls were crying. Some of the faculty had come in and sat spellbound.
After I finished there followed a half an hour of questions. I have never before been so impressed with our young people. All the questions were searching and penetrating. They asked many of the same questions that I have been asking myself for years, and to be able to think aloud and express my views was very rewarding for me. I am very glad that my friend Harvey drove me to the school. Harvey was totally spellbound, and he called the talk “very powerful and moving.” Myself, I didn’t think of the talk being anything special. I was simply telling my story.
I am so pleased that I have the two of you with whom I share today.