News & Updates

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Performances, Irena & Kristallnacht

Norm Conard will present in Orange, CT this Sunday at the Kristallnacht commemoration.

The Life in a Jar/Irena Sendler Project book will be featured at the Detroit Jewish Book Fair on Wednesday, November 9th.

Life in a Jar’s 299th performance will be in La Jolla on Sunday, November 13th. The 300th performance of Life in a Jar will be in Lebanon, MO on Sunday, December 4th.

Note: In November of 1938, Irena Sendler was very saddened to hear about Kristallnacht. She was already working in the social welfare department of Warsaw and saw many of her Jewish clients go without basic needs. She also was back in the University of Warsaw, finishing her degree. She had been expelled several years earlier for comments made in support of her Jewish friends.

**This information and information on our website comes from interviews with Irena (over ten) and hundreds of primary interviews, many set up by Irena.

Governor, Book Festival

Kansas book festival and Governor’s reception Last Saturday was the 2011 Kansas Book Festival at the Kansas State Historical Society in Topeka. Attendees of the event could meet with authors, participate in panel discussions, go to book signings, and participate in projects for children. Author Jack Mayer was present; his writing of Life in a Jar/the Irena Sendler Project was recognized with a Kansas medal.

“I’m very pleased,” Kansas First Lady Mary Brownback said. “It’s a beautiful day, it’s gone very smoothly.”

Joanne Budler, state librarian, and Roy Bird, director of the Kansas Center for the Book, honored 15 fiction, nonfiction, and children’s book authors with a medal for the literary contributions.

Barnes and Noble autograph signing on Saturday, October 8th, from 2-4PM: There will be a Life in a Jar/Irena Sendler Project book signing at Barnes and Noble, Oak Park Mall, on Saturday, October 8th. Several of the cast and original members of the project will be present. The book will be featured at the national Jewish Book Fair in Detroit during the first week of November.

Barnes & Noble, Toronto, the Governor and Author Jack

Barnes and Noble at the Oak Park Mall in Overland Park, Kansas will hold a book signing for Life in a Jar/the Irena Sendler Project. The signing will be on Saturday, October 8, from 2-4PM.

Here’s a big thank you for the wonderful hospitality shown to Norm in Toronto. Rabbi and Goldie Plotkin, you have a marvelous congregation. Paul and Chips Klein, thanks for the opening of your home.

Also, what a surprise and thrill it was to see some great friends; Michael Zajdman (son of child survivor and long-time friend of the project, Renata), Mel (child survivor) and Marilyn Goldberg, plus Lawrence and Lynn (longtime friends of Michael and Renata). What a beautiful evening of sharing in Canada!

Friday night, at the Governor’s Mansion in Topeka, Kansas, the Life in a Jar book will be recognized.

Also, on Saturday at the Museum of History in Topeka, the book and author Jack Mayer (see below) will be recognized with the Notable Book of Kansas award. TOMORROW(September 23rd) is the 12th anniversary of the beginning of the Life in a Jar project.

We are starting our 13th year of sharing Irena’s inspirational story. 40 students have been involved in the project, with the oldest now being 28. Our 2007 U.S. Irena Sendler Award recipient sends more news on his Genocide conference in Rwanda, Africa.

JACK MAYER RECEIVES Public Citizen of the Year Award from the Vermont Chapter of the National Association of Social Workers. He will be giving the keynote address at their annual conference on Friday September 23rd at Sugarbush, Vermont. The title of the address is “Irena Sendler: Profile in Courage” Here is the criteria for the award; Public ‘Citizen of the Year’, A community member who lives and works in Vermont, and does not hold a social work degree. Addresses social issues that support equal rights regardless of race, creed, gender, sexual orientation or physical challenge. Advocates and/or works with vulnerable and at risk populations. Has made significant contributions to the lives of individuals, families, communities and the human services. Advocates and contributes to the public’s awareness of social problems. Demonstrates outstanding leadership and initiative through political and social action. Demonstrates the highest standards of personal conduct and integrity and exhibits social work values and ethics.

September 12, 2001

Has it been ten years since we called Rabbi Taub at B’nai Jehudah in Overland Park, Kansas?

We expected our performance on September 12, 2001 to be canceled because of the events the preceding day. The Rabbi said over the phone that the Life in a Jar play was needed now, more than ever. He had no idea how many would attend. 250 chairs were set up, but over 500 people arrived to standing room only. The applause after the play was sustained and emotional. A highlight of the evening was the comment/question and answer session, which was inspirational. This was the evening a number of people came into our lives, including Howard & Ro Jacobson, Bruce & Gayle Krigel, John & Jenny Isenberg, and Irv Robinson.

Irena Sendler Award & Child Survivors Conference

The World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust 23rd annual conference was held in Warsaw, Poland this past week. Our good friend, Stephanie Seltzer, President of the Conference, and Rene Lichtman from Detroit (who has been a part of several projects with Life in a Jar) helped organize this powerful time. Norm Conard presented a panel and joined in activities.

Also present at the conference was Renata Zajdman of Montreal, who earlier in the week received the Bene Merito award from the Government of Poland for ‘good in the world.’ Also attending the conference was the Israeli Ambassador to Poland, Zvi Rav-Ner, the U.S. Ambassador to Poland, Lee Feinstein, the Mayor of Warsaw, Hanna Gronkiewicz-Waltz, and the assistant to the President of Poland. The President, Bronislaw Komorowski, sponsored a dinner on the first night. Long time friend of the program, Rabbi of Poland, Michael Schudrich, was involved in the conference and the Irena Sendler Award. Pitor Zettinger, of Sweden, was saved by Irena and also attended the conference. Renata Zajdman and Elzbieta Ficowska, both saved by Irena, were involved in many events. Both are great friends of Life in a Jar & Irena Sendler Project.

The 5th recipient of the Irena Sendler Award was awarded on Thursday, August 18th, in the Palace of the Foreign Ministry. Grazyna Ferenc, was the winner of this years award. She is a history teacher in Katowice and extremely active in Holocaust education. The ceremony was organized by Elzbieta Ficowska and Iga Kazimierczyk, of the Center For Citizenship Education. The Children of the Holocaust Association also participated.

Last, but not least, Elizabeth Cambers Hutton and her husband Graham had a baby girl on August 22nd. Lydia Michael Hutton weighed 8lbs 14oz and is the first child of Elizabeth and Graham. Elizabeth is the latest of the four ‘Sendlerowa girls’ to be blessed with a child.

Attention: be watching for new information on the childhood of Irena Sendler. Research was done and is being done in Poland on her childhood family hometown of Otwock, Poland.

Warsaw Conference and More

Norm will be speaking at the World Federation of Jewish Child Survivors of the Holocaust, the 23rd International Conference in Warsaw, Poland this week. On Sunday he will present on a panel dealing with Teaching the Holocaust in the classroom. He also will be sharing the stories of unsung heroes and the powerful Life in a Jar/the Irena Sendler Project.

A highlight of the week in Warsaw will be an afternoon tour on August 18th to the town of Otwock. Otwock was the town where Irena Sendler grew up and it has an orphanage where she hid children during the Holocaust. Norm will be visiting the town and orphanage with Renata Zajdman, Elzbieta Ficowska (both saved by Irena) and Dr. Mel Goldberg, who is a child survivor. We believe this is the first visit back for Dr. Goldberg. Powerful!!

The latest issue of Visions magazine has a great story on Irena Sendler and the kids from Kansas.

Our 2011 Irena Sendler Award winner from the U.S., Lee Holder of North Carolina, recently traveled to Poland and met Anna Kloza, the 2008 Irena Sendler Award winner from Poland. Lee is active in writing lesson plans on the Holocaust.

The Life in a Jar family spent Sunday afternoon at the home of our wonderful friends, Bruce and Gayle Krigel of Kansas City. The Krigels host the students and families each year and everyone has a beautiful time. Good friends, Howard and Ro Jacobson, John and Jenny Isenberg, Merilyn Berenbom and others were present to experience a time of relaxation and the sharing of projects, including the latest on the Irena Sendler project. The names listed above have been with the project for a decade.

‘Life in a Jar’ Book Receives Honor

Life in a Jar:The Irena Sendler Project has been selected as a 2011 Kansas Notable Book. This award, presented by the Kansas Center for the Book, honors 15 outstanding titles by Kansas authors or about Kansas. The book will be honored by the Governor and others in Topeka, Kansas this September.

Presentations, Survivors Conference and National History Day

Norm enjoyed sharing the Irena Sendler story, Life in a Jar and the Lowell Milken Center For Unsung Heroes in History, to a wonderful audience in West Long Branch, New Jersey. The emails from the audience were most appreciated and echoed our belief that one person can change the world. Thanks Angela Natenzon and the great group of volunteers who made the stay so enjoyable.

We have a big announcement coming(more on this later)!!!!!

We are looking forward to the World Federation of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants conference in Warsaw this August. Stefanie Seltzer, Rene Lichtman and many others are working to make this conference present a powerful statement.

Congratulations to the five Fort Scott projects that competed at the National History Day national competition this week. Three of the projects came in 4th, 7th and 10th in the nation. Life in a Jar was originally a National History Day project.

Cathy Gorn and the NHD staff continue to offer learning opportunities in this great program to close to a million students each year. The 4th place winner was based on the story of Hiram Bingham IV and his work using visas to save Jews during the Holocaust.

May News

Irena Sendler fact: Irena Sendler took the name, Klara Dambrowski, to protect her identity after her clandestine release from Pawiak prison.

Norm Conard (teacher and project director) will be giving a presentation on Irena Sendler and the Life in a Jar story Thursday night, June 2nd in Marlboro, New Jersey. The event will be sponsored by the Solomon Schechter Day School of Greater Monmouth County. The event location is 1213 Monmouth Road, West Long Branch, NJ and time is 6:30 PM. Contact person is Angela Natenzon- 917.608.6977-

The World Federation of Jewish Survivors and Descendants of the Holocaust conference will be held in Warsaw, Poland, on August 19-22. The conference will be at the Marriott Hotel.

Watch for presentations involving teacher and/or students from Life in a Jar. Future Life in a Jar presentations throughout the next year will be in San Diego, Kansas City, Nashville and Naples, Florida.

We have been receiving numerous emails this morning about the tornado that hit Joplin, MO. Most everyone in Fort Scott has friends and family in the Joplin area. The parents of Life in a Jar cast member, Ellie Perrey, had major damage to their business. Our thoughts and prayers are with those in the path of this destructive storm.

3rd Anniversary of Irena’s Passing

Three years ago today, Irena Sendler passed away. Her light continues shining in the darkness. We remember her wonderful, caring personality, and her concern for people in this world. She was a giant of our time.

The Life in a Jar cast presented in Lincoln, Nebraska last week. Thanks to Nancy Intermill and many others for making these presentations possible.

We also thought you’d like to know that the Life in a Jar/the Irena Sendler Project book, won one of the Eric Hoffer Book Awards. It was one of the winners of THE DA VINCI EYE, an award given for superior cover artwork. Congratulations to Jack Mayer’s friend, book designer, Winslow Colwell.

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