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Resources to Combat Antisemitism

"Once I thought that antisemitism had ended; today it is clear to me that it will probably never end." - Elie Wisel

My heart is heavy and my prayers are with the Jewish community in Pittsburgh as they go through this incredibly difficult time. Antisemitism is not a thing of the past, as we witnessed on Saturday. It's real and it's dangerous. Education is an important tool to combat antisemitism so today I'm going to give you some resources to do just that. 

Echoes and Reflections equips educators to confidently teach about the Holocaust and contemporary antisemitism. While this is an excellent source for teachers, I think anybody can benefit from this amazing resource. They have video toolboxes with testimonies from Holocaust survivors and they offer detailed lesson plans. I recently attended one of their in-person seminars which they present throughout the country, so check out the dates to see if a seminar is coming near you. My favorite resource they offer are free webinars. They cover a variety of Holocaust related topics, contemporary antisemitism, and connect history to the refugee crisis today. 

Israel Pt. 2: Exploring Jerusalem

Previous blog posts about Israel: Yad Vashem Seminar and Part 1: Dead Sea, Masada, and Yad Vashem

After lectures one day, our group took a tour of the Old City of Jerusalem! 

Israel Pt 1: Dead Sea, Masada, and Yad Vashem

This summer I had the opportunity to visit Israel for a ten day seminar at Yad Vashem: The World Holocaust Remembrance Center. I wrote a general blog post about my experiences studying the Holocaust HERE, but now it's time to share all the pictures! 

After a 10 1/2 hour flight, Tel Aviv was a sight for sore eyes!

After the taxi ride from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem, (during which I experienced nerve racking driving!) I made some much needed coffee and took a nap before dinner.  

In the Remains of the Warsaw Ghetto

Hello all!

I just recently returned from an incredible month studying WWII in Poland and Germany with the National WWII Museum! During the week our group of five was based in Warsaw while on weekends we traveled to Berlin, Gdańsk, and Krakow. Dr. Alexandra Richie was our amazing and knowledgeable guide during the month. She's the daughter-in-law of Wladyslaw Baroszewski (look him up!) and the author of Warsaw 1944 and Faust's Metropolis: A History of BerlinI'm so grateful that our group was small because we were able to spend lots of one-on-one time talking and learning so much from her. She also introduced us to individuals whom I never would have had the opportunity of meeting otherwise, such as Warsaw Uprising veteran Stefan Meissner and the nephew of Adam von Trott zu Solz who was involved in the July 20th plot to assassinate Hitler.  

The first thing on my list that I had to see in Warsaw were remains of the ghetto. This post is dedicated to the Warsaw Ghetto, but I'll be back with more blog posts documenting other parts of my trip.


The scars of war seem to linger on every corner despite that fact that Warsaw has been completely rebuilt. If you know to look for it, remains of the Warsaw Ghetto are intermingled with sky scrapers, shopping centers, and apartment buildings. In the courtyard where the last remnants of the ghetto wall stand, children's laughter echoes off buildings as they play games. It's a drastic contrast to what this space would have felt and looked like 75 years prior. 

I'm standing on the Jewish side of the former ghetto. I got up close to touch the bricks, thinking about the Jews who were forced to construct the wall that would close them off from the rest of the world.

Yad Vashem Seminar

From the balcony outside my classroom at the International School for Holocaust Studies at Yad Vashem, the rolling hills of Jerusalem seemed endless. Clouds drifted lazily above, casting patchwork shadows on the expanse of breathtaking land. All this awe-inspiring beauty intermixed with the ancient history surrounding me was nearly impossible to take in fully during an eight-day seminar. But the hardest to comprehend (and will always be the hardest) was studying the Holocaust. The Holocaust lectures ranging from The Final Solution and its Implementation to Confronting Holocaust Denial left me with a plethora of notes and a heavy heart. I've been studying the Holocaust for years, but being in Israel made it all the more emotional and personal for me as we focused deeply on personal stories of both survivors and victims.

Memorial Miles

There are some seasons in life when everything seems to happen at once, hence my unintended blogging hiatus! I've been trying to squeeze running in because it's just a great way to escape from the never ending to-do list going through my brain, get some exercise, and listen to great podcasts! Those are reasons enough to go for a run, but then a thing called Charity Miles came across my radar and now I have more motivation! The Charity Miles app tracks your distance and for every mile you run/walk, a corporate sponsor will give $0.25 to the charity of your choice.

I've been running for the Wounded Warrior Project, and I'd love for you to join me! Through the Charity Miles app you can join my team called "memorialmiles" and choose the Wounded Warrior Project for your next run. We can see, as a team, how many miles we earn this month!

While the group is for supporting wounded warriors, I also included in the description that it's to honor our fallen heroes as well. Memorial Day is coming up and it's a good time to think about not only the sacrifices of our wounded warriors and veterans, but those who made the ultimate sacrifice. 

When I run past an American flag I often remember "Wild Bill" Guarnere's quote: 

"When I think about the war, I don't think about the battle. I think about the men. I look at an American flag today and I see the faces of men I fought with, the ones who lived and the ones who died." 

Lately I've been thinking about Warren "Skip" Muck (101st Airborne) and Jason Dunham (USMC) who were both around my age when they made the ultimate sacrifice for our country.

Want to join the team? Download the Charity Miles App and select the Team tab (second to the right on the bottom of the screen). In the search bar enter "memorialmiles" and click "join."


The White Rose Resistance 75th Anniversary

It is certain that today every honest German is ashamed of his government. Who among us has any conception of the dimensions of shame that will befall us and our children when one day the veil has fallen from our eyes and the most horrible of crimes—crimes that infinitely outdistance every human measure—reach the light of day?

These powerful words were the first of many written in the basement of an artist’s studio in Munich, Germany. It was June, 1942 when two young men serving in the Student Medical Company at the University of Munich, Hans Scholl and Alexander Schmorell, laboriously mimeographed hundreds of anti-Nazi leaflets. They were forming a non-violent, intellectual resistance movement under the name Leaflets of The White Rose.

Voices From the Holocaust

In observance of Holocaust Remembrance Day, I put together this video to honor and remember the millions of victims whose voices were silenced.


“They Probably Deserved a Medal"

If you're a long time reader of this blog, you'll probably recognize the name Joe Leo. He's my favorite B-17 waist-gunner and a dear friend. In the summer of 2016 I was given the opportunity to fly in a B-17 from WWII. When I got home I called him up. “Joe, I got to fly in your plane!” The following week we met for coffee and pie to chat about B-17s. We looked over a model B-17 and identified the different positions—pilot, co-pilot, waist gunners, tail gunner, navigator, bombardier, radio man, and engineer. We agreed that neither of us would want to be the ball turret gunner, a brave soul who was scrunched up in a little Plexiglas ball on the belly of the airplane.

While I've shared WWII stories from Joe on the blog before, I wanted to post a quick story about the time he tried lifting a 250-pound bomb out of the bomb bay while flying over Germany. He told me this story before I flew in a B-17 so when I asked him to tell it again after my flight, I gained a whole new respect for what he did!

Joe is standing beside the window where he manned a waist gun.

I'm Going on an Adventure!

Happy New Year, friends! As you may have noticed from my sporadic blogging, writing fell by the wayside in 2017. As the year filled up with other commitments and I didn't have time to write, I began to really miss the adventure that comes with researching and writing a novel. One of my goals for 2018 is to write the book I've been thinking about for two years—my Warsaw Ghetto Uprising novel! 2018 isn't shaping into a less busy year by any means, but I'm determined to carve out the time necessary to reach my goal and learn to be ok with writing a book at a slower pace. There's going to be lots of research and adventures involved which I'm excited to share with you!

2018 is a really special year to write my novel because this April marks the 75th anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. When the Nazis began deporting Jews from the ghetto to Treblinka, the Jews made the choice to fight back. They smuggled in weapons and fought the Nazis for 28 days. In addition to armed resistance, they also wrote journals, letters, poems, drew pictures, and collected stories which they buried on the eve of the Uprising. They were determined that even after their deaths, their voices would not be silenced and the world would know what had happened. 

I have the incredible opportunity to do on-site research for my book this July. I will be traveling to Poland and Germany with the National WWII Museum to study the Holocaust and 20th century Poland under world-renowned historian Alexandra Richie, DPhil at a private university in Warsaw. I will also be able to visit various historical sites in Berlin, Warsaw, Krakow, and Gdańsk, intern at museums, and much more!

As you can imagine, this trip will be very expensive and the final payment is due April 2nd. While I'm working hard to pay for the bulk of my trip, I would be so grateful if you would consider helping me raise money for my airfare to Warsaw, Poland. 

If you donate $25 or more and live in the United States, I would be happy to send you an autographed copy of my WWII novel, Resist. I also have limited autographed copies of my novellas, It Took a War and Ain't We Got Fun available.

                                                                                  Donate Here

Regardless of whether you can donate or not, I hope you'll stick around as I begin this adventure!