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News of the week 11/24/20

News of the Week 11/24/20
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Thank you!

Renata Zajdman was a very special part of the Life in a Jar family and very close to Irena Sendler. Her birthday and the 7 year anniversary of her passing was in November. We remember this remarkable woman with hope and love.


Renata was saved from the Warsaw Ghetto at age 14 by the underground network connected with Irena. She spent her life sharing her experiences and advocating “never again” as her mission. She traveled to Kansas on a number of occasions and went to many Life in a Jar performances with us, giving testimony and sharing her experiences. She was an active member of both the Hidden Children organization and the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust. 
We thank Renata’s children, Michael and Sharon, for sharing their mother with the Life in a Jar family.
LOST AND FOUND -the hidden children
By Renata Skotnicka-Zajdman
For most part we have lived in hunger. Under constant terror of discovery. We were witnesses to evil, and bestiality. We were witnesses to wholesale murder and the imminence of our own death was pervasive. We had to grow up overnight and assume the adult responsibilities of caring for ourselves. We were old, before we were young. 
For almost three years, protected by Christian Poles, I lived under an assumed name, pretending to be Catholic. How well one could socially blend into the new environment also made a difference. Some would go into hiding, some would pass as Christians, but most had to change from hiding to passing and back again. Those who obtained new documents had to learn many new facts to support their new identities, dates, places regarding not only themselves, but also their fictitious relatives. Inconsistency could arouse suspicion, one slip could mean disaster.  I had to learn many survival strategies to cope with fears, imminence of death, starvation, illness and loneliness. Becoming well acquainted with one’s new identity was only a small part of what a “passing” child had to do. Familiarity with Catholic religion was another important pre-requisite for the new life. 
Often those suspected of being Jewish were subjected to rigorous cross-examination. Boys were in a special jeopardy, because in Europe only Jewish males were circumcised at birth. A casual examination could easily reveal a male `s identity. For this reason alone, passing was more dangerous for Jewish boys than girls.
Giving up our identity meant playing a part, becoming someone else. The better we played the role, the safer we were. Sometimes we were so caught up in the new part that we actually forgot, who we really were. This temporary forgetfulness was emotionally costly. Giving up our identity created an emotional void and made us anxious, worried that we would never recapture our past. We also felt ashamed for giving up what was cherished by our parents, by those we loved. We had to listen to anti-Semitic remarks and be silent. Breaking the silence could mean death. Silence became deeply ingrained. 
For a hiding child the liberation did not bring immediate relief. We still harbour many irrational fears: crossing borders, a man in uniform, a sound of a doorbell, or a plane overhead, or being caught without food. Each of these may provoke a flashback and palpitations.
As young people, most of us had no time to devote to self-healing, or even self-pity. We studied, worked, and had families, build our lives. Only now, in our maturity, with old memories stirring once again rather than receding further, have are learning the art of self-restitution of nurturing ourselves. We finally have the luxury of tears. Whatever we did to cope with old baggage that dragged us down, with pain that dulled but never healed, with unspent rage and nagging. Survivor guilt we did it well. We are poets and artists and philosophers and teachers and parents and people who worked hard in honest labour of every kind. We have strived to be menchen. The decent and productive individuals of whom our parents and grandparents would have been proud. And by and large, we succeeded.


Norman Conard

Life in a Jar Foundation 
The Irena Sendler Project
1 South Main Street
Fort Scott, KS 66701

News of the Week 9/23/20

News of the Week 9/23/20

September 23, 1999 – 21 years ago today

A clipping was found in Norm Conard’s classroom by some of his students. That News and World Report article from 1994, entitled “Other Schindlers,” featured several rescuers’ stories from the Holocaust. One of the paragraphs stated, “POLAND: IRENA SENDLER, SOCIAL WORKER:  She gave nearly 2,500 children new identities, and buried their real names for safekeeping.” 
After reading that sentence, the students had a desire to learn more. Irena Sendler and her collaborators risked their lives to do the right thing and make a difference. Her dedication to making the world a better place inspired the  students and their teacher. 
Twenty-one years later the students’ play, “Life in a Jar” has been performed more than 375 times around the world, the website has received millions of hits, more than 50 schools around the world have been named after Irena Sendler, thousands of student projects sharing Irena’s story have been completed, and over 3,000 news articles featuring Irena Sendler and the project have been published globally.
Irena Sendler’s story continues to make a difference.
You can learn more about Irena, the students, and their teacher by reading “Life in a Jar: the Irena Sendler Project.”
Tikkun Olam!
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News of the Week 9/4/20

News of the Week 9/4/20

There is a new article in the Humanities: The Magazine of the National Endowment for the Humanities about Irena Sendler, the Kansas students, and their teacher, Norm Conard. 

From the article – “In this time of pandemic we celebrate the helpers and the heroes, some of whom forfeit their lives. During World War II, many Holocaust heroes were unsung; they died during the war or lived their lives quietly afterward. One such hero was Irena Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker.
Read more of “Irena Sendler and the Girls from Kansas” on the website.

News of the Week 8/4/20

Remembering Irena and the Summer of 1942:
Irena Sendler’s love for people, especially children, was always evident when speaking to her.  
Irena wrote this in a letter to the Life in a Jar students in December 2003.
“The world is still in a fire of tribal, racial and national wars.  Therefore, I wish for everyone that during the coming year – 2004 – to extinguish all conflicts, all flames of war that destroy entire nations, kill thousands of people, also those happenings which harm the most innocent – the children.  I wish for everybody in the world, everybody dear to my heart regardless of race, religion and descent, to remember during all their actions, about the dignity of other persons, about their sufferings and needs, to always seek the way to mutual understanding and agreement. As we finish this year, we need to be full of faith and hope that good will prevail at last.  – Irena Sendlerowa – Jolanta
Irena took great care in planning the agenda for our first trip to meet her in Warsaw, Poland. Before we met Irena, we toured the area where the Warsaw Ghetto had been. As we thought of all that we had learned about the Warsaw Ghetto, we were led through this area by a child survivor. Recalling the summer of 1942, she shared some of her memories when we visited the Umschlagplatz Monument on Stawki Street. 
We remember that date seventy-eight years ago on July 22, 1942, when the trains for mass deportation started from the Warsaw Ghetto at Umschlagplatz.
Take care and be safe.

News of the Week 6/8/20

News of the Week 6/8/20

Irena Sendler believed in equality for all people. She stood up against the Nazis and resisted the persecution of Jewish people.  

Take some time and learn more about Irena and her network. They dedicated their lives to helping the people around them.
Irena lived by the belief that people cannot be separated by race, religion, or creed. People can only be separated by good and evil and the good will triumph.

News of the Week 5/12/20

This week is the 12th anniversary of Irena Sendler’s passing. May 3, 2008 was the last time members of the Life in a Jar cast and crew was able to spend time with Irena in Warsaw before she passed away on May 12. As we continue to share her story through the performance, website, and the book Life in a Jar: the Irena Sendler Project, we continue to spread her light and love for all people. 

During this time, we all have the opportunity to be a light for those around us. Spread light and love.



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News of the Week 4/28/20

80 years ago the world was ablaze with WWII and the beginnings of the Holocaust. Germany was invading more of Europe this month, in May of 1940, the Battle of Britain would begin. Dunkirk was only days ahead.  The world was suffering in a tremendous manner, and today in a different manner, the world is also suffering.  We at Life in a Jar: the Irena Sendler Project know that Irena, if alive today, would be worrying about the children, and all ages of people.

The 32nd Conference of the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust and Descendants in St. Louis has been postponed from 2020 to Fall 2021, there is a good possibility Life in a Jar will present to these survivors and their families. More information to come later.

Thank you to everyone for your continued support of the Life in a Jar Foundation. A great number of people have made a difference and supported this life-changing journey over the last 20 years. Thank you.

We hope everyone is safe and staying healthy.

With love,
The Life in a Jar Family

News of the Week 4/3/20

We are thinking of our special Life in a Jar family from around the world during this time. We hope you all are staying safe and healthy. 
Irena was a light in the darkness during the Holocaust. We remember Irena Sendler by being points of lights and sewing seeds of good around us every day. Learn more about Irena’s efforts with a short video clip featuring Irena Sendler and Norm Conard.
This fall we are working on two presentations, one in Kansas City and the other in St. Louis. The St. Louis presentation would be in November in collaboration with the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors Conference. Be watching our website for more information.
We also have a performance scheduled in 2021!

April 10, 2021 @ 7:00 pm CDT 

Life in a Jar will perform on Sunday, April 11, 2021 in Fredericton, New Brunswick, Canada sponsored by community groups and the Atlantic Jewish Council. Contact person is Israel Unger at 506-455-9787 or

News of the Week 2/11/20

February 15, 2020 – Irena Sendler was born 110 years ago February 15th. We remember this incredible woman with great admiration. We were with her about a week before her passing in 2008. She continued to speak about the brave Jewish people of the Warsaw Ghetto and the ‘righteous gentiles’ who helped save a great number.   

We are now booking performances for fall 2020 and beyond. Watch our website for more information

News of the week 1/20/20


On January 20, 1942, Reinhard Heydrich, Himmler’s second in command of the SS, convened the Wannsee Conference in Berlin with 15 top Nazi bureaucrats to coordinate the Final Solution (Endlösung) in which the Nazis would attempt to exterminate the entire Jewish population of Europe, an estimated 11 million persons. Never Forget, Never Again.  

We at the Life in a Jar: Irena Sendler Foundation strive to teach Holocaust education around the world, every day. 
Our website is being re-worked and we always welcome critique, as maintaining a website can be difficult.
Many people learn about Irena through
Be watching for some upcoming performances of Life in a Jar.

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