Fanya Gottesfeld Heller passed away earlier this week. Fanya was an adolescent during the Holocaust. In her life in America, she has been a generous benefactor of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – Living Memorial to the Holocaust, and a devoted educator about the dangers of prejudice and discrimination.
I had the immense honor of meeting Fanya last year and spending some time with her in preparation for a talk I gave in the context of the Eighteenth Annual Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Conference. The talk was entitled “Defying Evil: Child and Adolescent Survivors of the Holocaust”. Fanya was an amazing example of these adolescents who, despite such traumatic experiences and losses during a vulnerable time in life, went on to get an education, build families, and be dedicated to educating others and helping make the world better, whether it was to build a hostel for soldiers in Israel or an emergency room for a hospital.
Fanya’s book “Love In A World Of Sorrow” and a documentary, narrated by Richard Geer, entitled “Teenage Witness: the Fanya Gottesfeld Heller Story” tell the story of Fanya’s ordeal with unusual candidness.
It is a great loss to all of us who knew her. May her memory be blessed.