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Holocaust Survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan Speaks at Riverhead Middle School

January 18, 2024
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Holocaust Survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan Speaks at Riverhead Middle School

Students Experience Powerful First-Hand Account; Enhance Their Education and Empathy

RIVERHEAD, NEW YORK (JANUARY 2024) — Holocaust survivor and renowned author Marion Blumenthal Lazan recently spoke with Riverhead Middle School eighth grade students about her story of perseverance, incredible courage, and determination throughout the Holocaust. Ms. Blumenthal Lazan discussed her experiences at the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp as well as with antisemitism and bigotry.

“In providing our students the opportunity to hear a first-hand account from survivors such as Ms. Blumenthal Lazan, we are able to ensure that this dark, tragic period in world history will never be forgotten,” said Riverhead Central School District Interim Superintendent Cheryl Pedisich. “The district thanks Ms. Blumenthal Lazan for taking the time to speak with our students, faculty, and staff, as well as for the exceptional work she does worldwide on Holocaust awareness and education.”

The assembly was a component of the Riverhead Central School District’s mission to promote and foster accepting, safe, and respectful learning environments. Through this learning experience, the district enriches students’ understanding of history and interaction with classroom material and enhances their character, values, and leadership. Survivor accounts, such as Ms. Blumenthal Lazan’s, powerfully resonate; they let listeners in on a significant—yet heartbreaking—moment in history, evoke empathy, and encourage others to think deeply and act with compassion.

“If we do not learn from history, we are destined to repeat it,” said Riverhead Middle School Principal Dr. Joseph Pesqueira. “Being able to connect to the past with a primary source—someone that experienced this—brings learning to a different level. Her story is captivating, powerful, and something I think all students should hear.”

Ms. Blumenthal Lazan discussed her journey and discussed the damage caused by hateful rhetoric, symbols, and ideas. After sharing her story, she answered questions from engaged students eager to learn more from such a courageous woman. Many students remained after the assembly to take pictures with Ms. Blumenthal Lazan and have her sign autographs and copies of her memoir from them. She also implored all attendees of the assembly to share her story—and those of all other Holocaust survivors they have heard—with their friends, families, schools, and communities.

“They are the last generation to hear these stories first-hand and have their questions answered,” said Ms. Blumenthal Lazan. “I encourage them to be kind, good, and respectful toward one another. That is the basis for peace.”

In order to further bolster the meaningful lessons of the assembly, Ms. Blumenthal Lazan will return to Riverhead Middle School in February to speak with the seventh grade.

Marion Blumenthal Lazan has spoken with over one million people in 41 states and five countries about her story of hardship, hope and courage. She is the subject of the PBS documentary Marion’s Triumph and author of her memoir Four Perfect Pebbles: A Holocaust Story. She has received numerous accolades for her work in Holocaust awareness and education, including the New York State Board of Regents Louis E. Yavner Citizen Award, a special congressional citation, designation as a New York State Senate Woman of Distinction, and keys to the cities of Galesburg, Illinois, Owensboro, Kentucky, and Idaho Falls, Idaho. She was awarded the German Federal Cross of Merit by President Frank-Walter Steinmeier in 2023, and the grade and high school Marion Blumenthal Oberschule in Hoya, Germany was named in her honor.

Additional photos are on the Riverhead Central School District Facebook here.

 

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Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan excited to speak at Riverhead Middle School

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Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan holding her book Four Perfect Pebbles: A Holocaust Story

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Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan holding a yellow star identification badge that Jewish people were forced to wear by the Nazis

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Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan speaking with a Riverhead Middle School student

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Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan answering the questions of Riverhead Middle School students

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Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan signing autographs for Riverhead Middle School students and answering their questions

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Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan being interviewed at the Riverhead Middle School assembly

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Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan and her husband, Nathaniel Lazan, at the Riverhead Middle School assembly