Co-editors and authors Rita Benn and Ruth Wade facilitated a writing workshop through ZOOM for adult children of Holocaust survivors in the Chicago area on April 19. Yonit Hoffman who is the Senior Director of Holocaust Community Services and Doris Lazarus, an educator and coordinator of a 2G group affiliated with the Illinois Holocaust Museum, had participated in Rita and Ruth's memoir writing workshop at the 2022 World Federation of Child Survivors of the Holocaust and their Descendants (WFCSH&D) last November. They valued their experience so greatly that they wanted to offer this same opportunity locally to the second generation community groups that were part of their networks.
The 2G persons who participated in Chicago offered a variety of reasons for their attendance. Some wanted inspiration to better organize the memoirs they had already started writing about their parents, some wished to deepen their understanding of their childhood experience through writing and still some attended the workshop because they were just curious. After offering writing process and feedback guidelines, we provided short structured writing times with prompts, and partner breakouts where participants shared their writing. We were gratified to see the new insights gained by this 2-hour session. As one participant reflected, "Listening and writing were both interesting because you could see the connections and where it goes — different directions, and a spider web of connections." And another, "Normally I write factually and I let that go. Results were more powerful." In a follow-up email to the organizers, she further wrote, "This definitely was a one of a kind experience. I think all of us really delved into it and got a lot out of it, each in their own way. I already ordered Rita and Ruth's book. They make a great team."
Rita and Ruth thoroughly enjoyed working with this group and hope to continue offering this workshop to others. Contact them if you are interested to have them lead a workshop for your community!