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Woman honored for giving Holocaust survivors a voice

Posted at 5:44 PM, Dec 13, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-13 17:44:08-05

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — Holocaust survivors are sharing their stories in a classroom setting.

Joanne Baseman is a retired elementary school teacher. She taught for 30 years.

"Instead of having just paper and pencil, we brought people in," she said.

Making history in the textbooks come to life for her students.

"They sat, they talked, they explained what had happened to them, and the children had questions," Basemen said. "And then once COVID-19 hit, we were able to have the survivors zoom."

The Alpert Jewish Family Service is honoring Baseman for introducing kids with the survivors.

JFS provides services for Holocaust survivors. Marc Hopin is the CEO for JFS.

"Our agency and our sister agency in Boca Raton, we work with about 900 survivors," said Hopin. "And there’s probably a few hundred more that are in Palm Beach County that we are not aware of. "

Claims Conference who is quite the expert on these things told WPTV that there’s approximately 10,000 in Florida with a bulk of those living in South Florida.

Claims Conference said there's about 70,000 living in the United States.

"In fact many survivors, when they are younger, they don’t want to talk about their experience, they just want the help," Baseman. "But they are getting older and they realize that they are not going to be with us for much longer. That’s a lot of times when they say if I don’t tell my story now, I’m never going to get the opportunity to share.”

Baseman retired from teaching in 2018. But her mission continues.

"I think for me as a Jewish woman it's very important that we continue the story. I think that it's not only for the Jewish community, for people of color, it's for all different kinds of people who don't have what they should have.," said Baseman. "And I think that we need to teach tolerance within our community and if we start really young, then hopefully that's how our children grow up."

For assistance for Holocaust survivors, please contact JFS at 561-684-1991.