We have dedicated this space to give you tools to reach out to survivors and other speakers, how to prepare for the event, and guidelines for the event itself and its aftermath.
If you have decided to invite a speaker who is not a survivor, we highly recommend starting the event with a filmed/recorded testimony or reading out a written one.
Holocaust Survivors - through Association of Holocaust Organizations - find your location at www.ahoinfo.org, Synagogues, JCCs, Holocaust Survivors' Welfare Associations such as Blue Card in NYC and the Schechter Holocaust Services in Boston, the Department of Social Welfare, Social Services in municipalities, Jewish / Holocaust Museums and Nonprofit organizations.
Second-generation survivors and family members - through social networks, PTAs, synagogues and community centers.
Academia and Scholars - Contact universities, relevant academic forums; you can directly request a specific professor or a generally contact a certain department such as: Holocaust Studies, Researchers of the Second World War, History or Judaism Professors, Behavior Theorists etc.
Spiritual leaders and liberal arts professionals - writers, playwrights, actors etc.
Other suggestions - Righteous Gentiles, curators of museums, psychologists, sociologists etc.
The Initial Phone Call to a Speaker
Introduce the initiative and emphasis the importance of having a speaker in the Testimony part of the event. Describe the history of the initiative; This year is the seventh year Zikaron BaSalon evenings have been held on the Israeli Holocaust Memorial Day, in people’s living rooms. Our goal is to create an intimate way to commemorate the Holocaust, via hearing stories from Holocaust survivors, relatives and experts. We would love to host you in our home on the 23.4.2017, or close to it, during a time that is best for you.
The testimony is roughly forty-five minutes to an hour of sharing with a group of 15-40 people that want to hear your story and mark this moment with you.
If it is a Holocaust survivor, we recommend inviting a family member to accompany them as well as if possible, to help with the organization and the transportation. You may offer your assistance in these areas as well. It is recommended to arrange the ride ahead of time to avoid misunderstanding, frustration and extra stress.
If the person is interested in participating, take their full name, phone number and address.
If they say they already have plans on Holocaust Memorial Day - say that Zikaron Basalon can be held before or after their other plans if they are interested. Furthermore, you can suggest finding an alternative event and check with other hosts in your area. Don’t forget to get back to the survivor even if you aren't able to find an alternative time and place.
If they are not interested, politely thank them for their time and wish them well. If the person seems invested in the conversation but is not interested in speaking in front of a crowd for whatever reason, it is encouraged to discuss with him/her the possibility of a family member that may be interested to share his/her story.
There are some points that could be raised during the call and it is important to clarify them:
They are not required to host in their own home. They are invited as guests to someone’s home close to them and we want to mark this evening with them and hear their story.
We want to hear every story. If arguments are made as “but my story is not interesting” respond that for us all, the personal testimony is important and deserves to be heard.
We strongly recommend arrival with an accompanying family member.
Follow Up Phone Call
Preferably held two weeks before the event - contact the speaker for formal introductions, setting expectations and goals, ensuring means of arrival and departure.
You may need to remind them what it is and it is recommended to check if there are any unusual circumstances you need to take into account - language (Hebrew / English / Other), wheelchair mobility, difficulty speaking/hearing.
Check if they want to come with someone, if they need a projector and/or computer for photos/slideshow, check how they plan on arriving and make sure all sides are aware of this plan.
It is important to remind the time frame for the testimony (45-60 minutes) and the remaining parts without the speaker.
Before the Event
The Certificate of Appreciations is very significant for the survivors and expresses our gratitude for the effort they made by coming to the event. Prepare this ahead of time, and if possible, frame it with a personal message, making it even more special.
We recommend calling the speaker a day or so ahead of the event, reminding him/her of the event and confirming time and transportation to the event. Make sure to match expectations by asking the speaker questions such as: Can the audience eat or drink during the testimony, can they ask questions throughout the testimony or does s/he prefer a Q&A session afterwards, etc. This is an emotional event for all speakers, but especially for survivors, and thus it is important to create a pleasant and comfortable atmosphere for them. Emphasize to your audience to respect this part of the evening accordingly; turn phones off and put them aside, sit quietly and avoid moving around during the testimony, etc.
During the Event
To simplify, we divided the guidelines according to speaker:
The goal is to hear the story of his/her life, before and after the war, and not only speak of the traumas from the war itself. If the speaker hasn’t prepared the presentation of his/her story, you can open the testimony part with a question about his/her childhood, before the war, how s/he celebrated holidays, school routines, hobbies, etc. Afterwards, prompt him/her with questions about the war itself, the hardships, where they went during the war, how they survived, do they have a memory they especially have kept close to their heart, etc. Finally, ask about life after the war, moving to another country (if they did), building a family, a career, etc.
It’s recommended to write questions ahead of time that offer a glimpse into the speaker’s life.
Second - Generation Speaker
Similar to the survivor’s testimony, it’s important to let the speaker talk about his/her family’s life before and after the war. You may use the questions above, yet we recommend having the speaker relate as well to his/her experience as a second generation of a survivor. Also, touch on the impact this had on his/her childhood and growing up, significant memories s/he may have in this regard, experience with other second-generation survivors, etc.
These are the speakers who come filled with knowledge, and thus they can engage the audience with information and stories about the Holocaust from an academic or professional standpoint. Usually these speakers do not need questions to prompt their presentation, but feel free to ask even personal questions - how did they become involved in studying the Holocaust, etc.
After the Event
We ask that you call your speaker the day after the event, asking how s/he felt. Ask for feedback, and make sure to thank once again for his/her participation.