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What better way to teach about the Holocaust than by telling the stories of those who lived it?
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Judy Winnick, a historical actress, was Congregation Beth Evergreen’s scholar-in-residence for a week in April, where she recreated characters from the Holocaust to enlighten others about that tragic time in history. Her performances help make sure others don’t forget the time in history when the Nazis killed 6 million Jews and others considered undesirables.
Sometimes she’s Miep Gies, the woman who hid Anne Frank and her family. Other times, she’s Alice Herz-Sommer, a concentration camp survivor. And still other times, she’s Irena Sendler, who was in the Warsaw ghetto.
Winnick has been doing historic portrayals and giving lectures since she retired as an elementary school teacher for Littleton Public School, calling the portrayals a labor of love. She has spent countless hours researching the women she portrays, traveling to Europe to get as much up-close-and-personal information as she can, so she can authentically portray the women.
“The research is a lot of what helps make my stories come to life,” Winnick said. “(Family members) can tell you things about them that bring them to life, their little idiosyncrasies. It’s easier to portray someone you feel close to and admire and feel that connection. These characters inspire me to be better.”
This is Winnick’s third visit to Congregation Beth Evergreen, according to Marilyn Saltzman with the synagogue.
“She has amazing performance skills, and she’s done so much research to create the characters,” Saltzman said, who added that Winnick’s teaching experience provides her with the tools to talk with adults and children.
Winnick’s visit to CBE is made possible by an endowment from the Diesenhof family to create a legacy of education at the synagogue, which brings in an educator every two years.
“Judy makes history come alive,” Saltzman said. “This is a way that people can respond and learn about the Holocaust in a unique and meaningful way.”
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