Julie Kohner has given several Voices of the Generations talks over the past few months, from Ventura to Palm Desert. Speaking to large groups of students and adults, Julie has made an impact on their lives with the importance of remembrance. Recent engagements have included:
Chaminade High School, West Hills, CA
Students in Marianne Rosen’s World History class had a unique opportunity to connect with the past when speaker Julie Kohner visited them in March. Ms. Kohner, founder of “Voices of the Generations,” is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor. Her mother, Hanna Bloch Kohner, was imprisoned at a series of concentration camps during World War II, including the infamous Auschwitz camp. Hanna and her husband, Walter Kohner, were separated during the war but never stopped loving each other. Their struggles and ultimate reconnection after the war is a story of faith and courage, and is one of the few Holocaust stories with a happy ending.
As a Second Generation Survivor, Julie Kohner has struggled with the questions: “Who will bear witness to the atrocities of the Holocaust in the future? How will we teach children about this historical period without the immediacy of personal experience?” Over the years, Kohner (who holds a Masters in Education) developed curriculum about the Holocaust and her parents in an effort to answer those questions. Her program, “Voices of the Generations,” uses memorabilia and a unique video recording of her parents to help students feel connected to the past.
“One of our responsibilities as Chaminade instructors,” Rosen remarks, “is to help our students develop into thoughtful, knowledgeable people who will work to make the world a better place and promote justice. The story we heard from Ms. Kohner was a story of moral and ethical courage–a message which resonated with all of my students.”
“Her passion for passing on her mother’s legacy was so inspiring to me,” said student Peter Dyer, ’15. “It showed me that I would like to find my own passion and help others.” Jack Moran, ’15 remarked that “I was so moved by her mother’s story and the way she was able to find happiness out of such terror.”
And from student Rylie Klotz, ’15: “Because I am Jewish, it was very powerful for me to relate to my own heritage.” Sam Miller, ’15, observed: “My favorite part was seeing Ms. Kohner’s mother on the television program because you always think of victims of the Holocaust as sad. Her mother was happy and seemed to have great faith in tomorrow. That was extremely motivational.”
That message of hope and courage is timeless, and the Voices of the Generations program enabled Rosen’s students to feel the power of “Me” becoming “We.”
St. Bonaventure High School, Ventura, CA
St. Bonaventure High School recently welcomed Julie and VOG for four programs to their high school history department.
The Desert Tolerance Center, Palm Desert, CA
Julie spoke to the Sunshine Circle at the Desert Tolerance Center. Shaindy Friedman, who directs the Sunshine Circle says the program matches up teens and young adults with Holocaust Survivors.