Everyone in attendance at the Women's Initiative breakfast event received a copy of Ishmael Beah's book A Long Way Gone.
|On Wednesday, July 18, Holland & Knight's
Mid-Atlantic Women's Initiative and the Holland & Knight Charitable
Foundation hosted a special presentation by author Ishmael Beah and
his adoptive mother, Laura Simms, an actress and storyteller.
Ishmael, a former child soldier in Sierra Leone, recounts his
harrowing life story in the book A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy
Soldier. His book was on The New York Times Best Seller List for 22
weeks. Fortunately Ishmael's story did not end in the army. He was
rescued by UNICEF and eventually adopted by Laura Simms, a
Brooklyn-born, Jewish storyteller in Manhattan. Laura, an author in
her own right, has appeared in theater throughout the world and
often works with Holocaust survivors. Laura and Ishmael spoke about
how the study of the Holocaust is important in addressing modern
wars where genocide, kidnapping and brainwashing children is
Following the Ishmael Beah program, the group heard Alice Masters' testimonial. They had lunch at the National Museum of American Indians and toured several Smithsonian Museums.
Survivor BiographiesAlice Masters (82) Born in Czechoslovakia. She resides in Washington, D.C. As a child, Alice lived in a small village at the foothills of the Tatra Mountains. Her courageous parents sent Alice and her two sisters on one of the last Kinderstransports to England in June 1939, five months after the occupation. She was 14-years-old, her older sister, Josi, was 15 and the youngest, Elli, was 10. Their mother took Elli off the train three times before finally letting her go. The three girls were the sole survivors of the entire family. Their parents, grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins and friends perished at Auschwitz in the summer of 1942. Alice lived in England until 1948 when she was offered a job with the International Monetary Fund in Washington, D.C., where she worked for 35 years. In 1950, she married Peter Masters. She has three children and seven grandchildren.
Ela Stein Weissberger (77) Born in Prague. She resides in Tappan, New York. Ela is one of 100 Terezin children who survived World War II. Ela was born to Max and Marketa Stein in 1930. Like all Jewish children in Prague, she was forced from public school in 1939. In 1942, Ela, her sister, mother, grandmother and uncle (her father died of unknown causes) were deported to Terezin for three and a half years. While there, Ela was a cast member in the children's opera Brundibar, and played the part of the cat in 55 performances while at Terezin. The Germans used scenes from Brundibar in a Nazi propaganda film. Ela and her family were liberated on May 5, 1945, and in 1949 they moved to Israel where Ela became a sergeant in the Israeli Army. It was there she met and married her husband, Leopold Weissberger. They moved to New York in 1959. Ela has two children and currently works as an interior decorator in Tappan, New York. Ela is dedicated to traveling the world to tell her story in honor of the memory of the victims of the Holocaust.