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Letters to Lienke – Nili Goren meets with a delegation of German educators

Members of the German delegation listen to Nili's story
Members of the German delegation listen to Nili's story

Sitting around a table with flowers in the creative writing workshop at “Yad Layeled”, Nili Goren, Holocaust survivor, is giving testimony to a group of German educators who have come to the museum especially to meet her.  On the table are little colorful booklets – letters from Nili's father, and as she talks, some of the educators pick one up, turn the pages and then, quietly, hold them in their hands like a precious stone.

Nili Goren, 74, from the Haifa suburb of Kiryat Haim, was born Jacqueline Van Der Hoeden, in the Netherlands. "Jacqueline" was a fusion of Jacques (or Yaakov; her father's name) and Lien (her mother's name). Her nickname was Lieneke.

This group of educators knows Lieneke through her biography, "And What Do They Call You Now?, beautifully written by Tami Shem-Tov and published in Hebrew by Dvir, in conjunction with the Ghetto Fighters House and Robert de Rothschild. Since its publication, the book and the booklets have been translated to Dutch, French, Spanish, Portuguese and German.

The book tells the story of the years Nili spent in hiding during the Holocaust and also contains the decorative letters her father sent her via the Resistance.  Her father, Dr. Yaakov Van Der Hoeden, wrote her poems, stories, greetings and also reports about the dog he had adopted, the flowers in the garden and two newborn goats.

Nili brought her copies of the booklets (that were translated to German and published by Jacob & Stuart) and placed them on the table so her audience could read them in their mother tongue.  While they turned the pages of the letters, Nili explained to the group how children who visit Yad Layeled learn about her story through a creative writing workshop and write her letters with questions about her life before, during and after the Holocaust. 

After this special meeting, the group continued their visit in both the children’s museum and the Ghetto Fighters’ House museum.


                    On the left: Delegation member reading one of the letters sent to Nili in the German publication

                                  On the right:  Cover of the original birthday letter sent to Nili by her father



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