Recently, the Institute for Holocaust Education hosted a trip to Israel for board members, educators, and friends of the IHE. The focus of the trip was to understand Israeli society in a post-Holocaust world. Beth Seldin, Director of the IHE, led the delegation on a tour of Israel that commenced with a quote by writer and Holocaust survivor, Abba Kovner: “This is the story of a people which was scattered over all the world and yet remained a single family: a nation which time and time again was doomed to destruction and yet out of ruins rose to new life.” Seldin commented that the group's journey "truly reflected these words as we traveled modern Israel, learning about the passion of the people and their past."
Visiting the Western Galilee, the partnership region for the Jewish Federation of Omaha, the delegation spent time at the Ghetto Fighters’ Museum. Seldin says that "the museum provided a deeply moving reflection of the experiences of children during the war. We were guided by Tali Shner, child of survivors who were founders of the kibbutz. Tali focused specifically on individuals and the special artifacts that tell the amazing stories of those who live at the Ghetto Fighters’ Kibbutz."
Making the trip with the delegation was Mr. Sami Jalilov and his grandson, Djamshed. Sami is from Tajikistan and is Muslim. He was 19 years-old in the Russian Red Army when he was wounded and sent to Auschwitz in a cattle train. He spent numerous months in Auschwitz until the beginning of 1945 when he was sent on a death march which ended with the Allied Liberation in Northern Italy in May 1945. Sami’s grandson lives in Omaha and in 2007, the IHE was asked to assist in researching which American Army had liberated Sami. By coincidence, the unit most likely to have been in Northern Italy at that time was the 34th Infantry made up of troops from nearby Iowa. Following two visits by Mr. Jalilov to Omaha, Djamshed set off to escort his grandfather and join the group in Israel.