Daughter of Holocaust Rescuer to Speak Thursday, April 4 7:30pm
Jeannie Smith, daughter of Polish rescuer Irene Gut OpDyke will be speaking about her mother’s memoir, “In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer”. The lecture will be followed by a book signing at 9:00pm. The lecture is free and open to the public. Donations will be gratefully accepted. This lecture is sponsored by Congregation Kol Shalom and the Washington State Holocaust
Education Resource Center.
Irene Gut OpDyke was a teenager when the Nazi attack on Poland changed her life forever. She was separated from her family, escaped twice from incarceration, and captured and raped by Soviet soldiers.
Her most difficult predicament was also her noblest: she saved the lives of 16 Polish Jews,hiding some of them literally beneath the noses of the German officers.
About the speaker, Jeannie Smith:
Jeannie Smith is the daughter of Polish rescuer Irene Gut OpDyke who passed away on May 18, 2003. Irene received international recognition for her actions during the Holocaust while working for a high ranking German official. Irene’s life story was recently toldon Broadway in the nationally acclaimed play “Irena’s Vow” starring Tovah Feldshuh.
Irene’s book, In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer from Random House, relays the detailed account of her life during theyears of WWII and is used in classrooms around the country. The Israeli Holocaust Commission named Irene one of the Righteous among the Nations; a title given to those who risked their lives by aiding and saving Jews during the Holocaust. She was presented with the Israel Medal of Honor, Israel’s highest tribute in a ceremony at Jerusalem’s Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial. The Vatican has given Irene a special commendation and her story is part of a permanent exhibit in the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. In 2008 Irene was presented posthumously the Commanders Cross – the Polish medal of honor, given by the president and First Lady of Poland and in 2009 Irene was presented posthumously the Courage to Care award by the Anti Defamation League in a special ceremony in Washington DC.
Both of these awards were accepted by Irene’s only child – Jeannie Smith.
Jeannie resides in Woodland, Washington with her husband Gary. She is the mother of two sons and the grandmother of 3 beautiful grandkids.
Jeannie is part of a new generation of Holocaust Speakers called Second Generation who share the life stories from their parents’ first hand experiences. She is a member and speaker for the Oregon & Washington Holocaust Speakers Bureau, a regular speaker for the Anti Defamation League’s Bearing Witness Program, Jewish Federation groups, Lion of Judah events, and Hadassah groups. She travels to schools, churches, camps, organizations, fund raising groups and clubs throughout the United States. The story she tells, although filled with the horrors and hate that the Holocaust holds also brings a message of faith, love and hope that good can triumph over evil. It proclaims the conviction that one by one we can say no to hatred, persecution and predigest. The story speaks of the power of love and encourages the fact that “One person can make a difference!” Love is the greatest weapon we have, Hate is easy. It takes real courage to Love.