6 Million Lights is proud to announce that we’ve successfully completed four pilots workshops for our new Light of Our Survivors initiative, beginning in late January, 2019 and finishing June 4, 2019. We completed two workshops in Madison and two in Milwaukee with a total of 68 registrants.
Our first workshop was held over two sessions in Madison at Temple Beth El in late January and early February with a multi-generational, interfaith group of 10 participants, including two Survivors (Judith, a member of the Resistance in Rotterdam; Renata, a Kindertransport Survivor) and three descendants.
Our second workshop was held over two sessions in late February and early March in Milwaukee at Lynden Sculpture Garden with another multi-generational, interfaith group of 12 participants, including three Survivors and one descendant.
Based upon these two pilot workshops, we received partial funding from Bader Philanthropies to conduct two additional multigenerational, multi-faith workshops with a goal of 8-12 participants at each workshop. Much to our surprise and delight, we ended up with 46 participants between the two workshops! We had overwhelming interest and rather than turn potential participants away, we decided to tweak the workshop process to allow for these larger numbers.
Our third workshop (part of the Bader Grant) was held over two sessions in Madison, WI at Temple Beth El in mid-May with 22 participants, including two Survivors and six descendants ranging from 2nd generation to 4th generation descendants. The workshop was dedicated to the memory of Thea Aschkenase, an amazing Survivor of Auschwitz who stared down the notorious Dr. Mengele in order to save her mother’s life. Thea hoped to attend our first pilot workshop but illness thwarted her plans. We scheduled a second Madison workshop primarily to allow for her participation, but she passed away in the interim and so this workshop was held in her memory.
Dr. Mark Olsky, the world’s 2nd youngest Survivor was among the participants in this workshop. Dr. Olsky, a 74 yo retired emergency physician who is featured in the book, Born Survivors, was born on Hitler’s birthday on a cattle-car-train headed to the Mauthausen extermination camp in the waning days of World War II. Weighing less than two pounds and born to a mother weighing about 70 pounds, both were immediately sent to the gas chamber, which miraculously had just been disabled hours before. As miraculous, Mark was one of three babies to have been born to mothers who had been transported on the same train to Mauthausen and these three babies are the youngest known Survivors.
Our fourth workshop was held over two sessions in Milwaukee, WI at Congregation Sinai in late May and early June with 24 participants, including two Survivors and three descendants.
Holding these four workshops was an intense, revelatory, impactful experience – for the participants and the facilitators. We surveyed all participants and the responses were extremely positive, encouraging us to seek further funding in order to continue providing these incredible workshops.