Fanny is well known for her presentations at the Speak every year at the Holocaust Education Symposium, now in it’s 30th year. She is clear that only through education, through storytelling and sharing can we get to the promise of “never again”. “When I was a child I was afraid to go out at Easter because of the oppression of the Jews… things change” she reflects.
At the 25th anniversary of symposium, a teacher from Strathmore spoke about being at the symposium when she was 17 and hearing Fanny speak about hiding in the forest, this changed the course of her life. That is the fuel that keeps Fanny going, telling her stories and keeping traditions.
“I am not religious but I am think traditional” says Bubby Fanny “traditions help us remember who we are, not just as individuals or families but as whole communities. They are important. It is what keeps the Jewish culture together. If we didn’t have tradition we wouldn’t have survived Holocaust and the persecution all those years.”
“There are so many things that get in the way of our traditions. Remembrance day has become a day at the mall. We should take the time to reflect on our history and how we got here as a society, how we got our freedom."
She sees the danger in not passing on our history when these children, who will become the future decision makers do not know the stories of the past and then “history will repeat” itself.
She goes on to remind us that “Culture can maintain traditions and support the education of our history so that we can try to learn from our traditions.”
The key here is taking the best of what we have learned, and learning from the worst of what we have experienced. When I asked her how we would know what was good her life experience made the answer spring from her lips, as though this common sense answer would be easy if you simply gave it some thought: the best “traditions are respectful of humanity as a whole”.
She reminds us that it is unhelpful to ghetto yourself. The world is a wider scope than the four walls of your house. If we keep our traditions we are able to move from our families, to our communities and to humanity.
“It is not just my tradition, it is our tradition, I also love other traditions like Christmas - I love it. I have Christmas dinner with my friends that celebrate Christmas. American thanksgiving, I respect other traditions. Its a bringing together. And if we all supported each other’s beliefs and traditions we would have fewer troubles in the world.”