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Chavurah Family's Holocaust Journey Featured in Book,
PBS Film Study Guide Helps Teach Tolerance, Courage Hope

This April, as millions of Americans mark Holocaust Remembrance Day, our Chavurah Religioius School will use the Holocaust journey of Chavurah member Stephen Ollendorff to teach lessons of tolerance, courage and hope by sharing the story of a timeless letter written by his grandmother just days before she died in a concentration camp.

On August 24, 1942, Valli Ollendorff wrote a farewell letter to her only surviving son knowing that she would not escape her fate in the Thereseinstadt camp. Lost for nearly 50 years, the letter mysteriously arrived in 1985 when her son was 79 years old.

A PBS documentary narrated by Martin Sheen and Liv Ullman, "Fate Did Not Let Me Go" (Terra Entertainment), chronicles the true story of Valli's letter and its long journey across continents and generations. More than a mother's goodbye, the letter's message of hope and love transcends the tragedy of the Holocaust and stands as a triumph of the human spirit in history's darkest hour.

The Ollendorff Center for Religious and Human Understanding has created a free school discussion guide with five classroom activities designed to assist educators in sharing this extraordinary story with their students. The documentary and its companion educator guide will help spark poignant discussions about the personal impact of the Holocaust and inspire students to promote tolerance in their lives.

"This story teaches us about the values of courage, hope, family and strength in the face of hardship," said Stephen Ollendorff, Valli's grandson and the President of the Ollendorff Center. "As we approach Holocaust Remembrance Day, we are reminded of the importance of treating our fellow human beings with dignity, respect and compassion."

"Valli's voice, like Anne Frank's voice, will be heard for generations," said Emmy Award® winner Martin Sheen, who narrates the 25-minute documentary.

To view and download the free school guide, educators are encouraged to visit www.fatedidnotletmego.org/schoolguide or email info@fatedidnotletmego.org. To order "Fate Did Not Let Me Go" on VHS or DVD at a special discounted rate of $10.50 (30 percent off the retail price of $14.95), educators can visit www.fatedidnotletmego.org or call toll free 1-800-723-9479. To receive the special educator discount, please use the promotional code "JT30FA" when ordering.

The non-profit Ollendorff Center for Religious and Human Understanding promotes tolerance and understanding among people of all faiths. For more information, visit www.fatedidnotletmego.org or email info@fatedidnotletmego.org.


Fate Did Not Let Me Go:
School Discussion Guide and Classroom Activities

The PBS documentary film Fate Did Not Let Me Go tells the extraordinary story of a mother's farewell letter to her son written just days before she died in the Thereseinstadt concentration camp. Lost for nearly 50 years, the letter mysteriously arrived in 1985, when her son was 79 years old. More than a mother's farewell, the letter's timeless message of hope, courage and love stands as a triumph of the human spirit in history's darkest hour.

The Ollendorff Center for Religious and Human Understanding has created a special school discussion guide with five classroom activities designed to assist educators in sharing this extraordinary story with their students. Teachers are encouraged to use the "Fate Did Not Let Me Go" documentary and its companion educator guide to help spark poignant discussions about the impact of the Holocaust and inspire their students to promote tolerance in their lives.

    Discussion Guide: The Fate discussion guide is a valuable teaching tool for subject areas such as social studies, literature, world history and current events. Thought-provoking questions will spur student discussion about history, family, communication and fate and add impact and meaning to lessons on the Holocaust, World War II or for Holocaust Remembrance Day (April 29, 2003).

    Activity One - Your Own Letter of Hope: Valli Ollendorff's letter is a farewell letter to her son. It is full of love, hope, dignity and wishes of success. In this activity, students write their own Letter of Hope that highlights their own values, emotions and hopes for their lives and their world.

    Activity Two - A Modern Day Letter of Hope: Combining research and creative writing, students investigate modern day situations where family members can be separated (war, immigration, illness or death) and create a fictional Letter of Hope, capturing their subject's personal and political situation.

    Activity Three - Voices: Students use the context of the Fate Did Not Let Me Go film to interview people who lived during the Holocaust (and/or their families) to gain a deeper perspective as well as factual information about the time period and events. Students take notes from their interviews and share these stories in class, discussing how it impacted them and what they learned.

    Activity Four - Time Capsule: Using the theme of elapsed time in Valli Ollendorff's story - the time between when the letter was sent and when it was delivered - students are asked to think about what messages and objects they would like to be remembered by and create a commemorative time capsule representing their life, family, hopes and dreams.

    Activity Five - Candles of Hope: This activity challenges students to display actions of honor, courage, and tolerance to commemorate Holocaust Remembrance Day (April 29, 2003). Students discuss the definitions of honor, courage, and tolerance and how the values relate to the Holocaust and the documentary film. Students then identify examples of actions that promote these values and receive candles of hope for each positive action they perform.

Order Information: To view and download the free school guide, educators are encouraged to visit www.fatedidnotletmego.org/schoolguide or email info@fatedidnotletmego.org. To order "Fate Did Not Let Me Go" on VHS or DVD at a special discounted rate of $10.50 (30 percent off the retail price of $14.95), educators can visit www.fatedidnotletmego.org or call toll free 1-800-723-9479. To receive the special educator discount, please use the promotional code "JT30FA" when ordering. About The Ollendorff Center: The non-profit Ollendorff Center for Religious and Human Understanding promotes tolerance and understanding among people of all faiths. For more information, visit www.fatedidnotletmego.org or call 201.894.0933.





“Teaching the values of courage, hope, family and faith.”


Valli Ollendorff