Excerpts of letters from students
Side Note: I am now in seventh grade and I wrote this the minute I got home from school this day. You came to Levy Lakeside Elementary School last year right before COVID-19. This email never sent. You are a inspiration to me. I have seen you on the news and you are just amazing.
Hello Marion. My name is Emily and I am a 6th grade student from Birch school who joined Lakeside school for your speech. Your speech was phenomenal. I did hear your book in my classroom however hearing these words come out of your mouth truly was an inspiration to me and probably many others in the room that day. I believe that what you do is amazing. You tell people that this happened and that it is not fake. It is scary to think that people do not believe that the Holocaust happened. If no one told people that this happened it would be a disaster. It would be extremely hard to prevent it from happening again.
You have truly made a serious impact on my life. You showed me and many others that you need to have courage, treat people with kindness and most of all accept people. Accepting people is so important because if you do not learn to accept people for who they are then bad things will end up happening.
During this period of time, the Nazis and Adolf Hitler trapped you and your family. There seemed like no way out. However, you made it possible. You pushed through this and you may have some horrific memories but that is okay. The fact that you were able to come speak to us that day was amazing!!! I will never ever forget your speech to us. I will remember your speech and tell it to all people who need to hear it.
During your speech, you mentioned your mother. You said she was a remarkable woman who would not let her children go and who would fight until her very last second. I obviously never knew your mother or met her, but I know she was one outstanding woman. All women are. All mother’s are. They fight for what is right and they fight for what they want. They are there for you when no one else is. They run around like crazy people to make sure you are okay. Thank you for representing her that day and showing us that mothers are important and especially for showing us that your mother is important.
The last thing I want to say to you is this. For as long as you can, please keep sharing your story. For as long as you are able to, keep sharing your story. People want to hear your voice, they want to give you hugs, and they want to hear your remarkable story. I was so, so fortunate that I was around that day to hear your story. If you get this, please answer! If you do end up getting this let’s keep in touch! By the way, my classroom teacher Mrs. Goldspiel showed us the letter you sent back to her!! I wish you the best future and I wish you a future with health and happiness. I just want to say thank you for everything. I appreciate you and your family. Thank you.
Love and hugs, Emily.
“Dear Mrs. Marion Blumenthal Lazan, you’re an amazing person. As I was hugging you, I felt as if I were hugging history, and for a second, it was if I could feel the pain you went through, something that nobody will forget and that hopefully, with the kindness in my heart, will never happen again.
It brings tears to my eye. You are very brave, braver than anyone I have ever known. You’re also extremely inspirational to me and everyone in that theater. So thank you, thank you so so very much for coming. The story of your life is sad, but also very interesting, and I promise you that I will never again waste not even one slice of bread.” Charisma , Chelmsford, MA June 2016
“On Wednesday, June 4th, you came to my school, Eastport South Manor Jr/Sr High school. I would just like you to know that I cried when I received a signed copy of your book that was signed to me. I just felt that I couldn’t be happier, that I had something to pass on to my children, and that they would be able to understand the Holocaust. I felt so special that someone as important as you would sign a book to me, and my fellow classmates. Than when you came to my school, I was overjoyed. your story is very interesting, and I wanted to hear it from you personally. after the presentation, you came off the stage and took pictures with my fellow classmates, and I. this is when you started to talk to me and my friends about school, and about growing up. you also gave me and my friends a hug. once again I felt so special that I received a hug from a Holocaust survivor. I could not stop smiling. I talked about it for days, and bragged about it to everyone. I was so proud. I know you probably receive a lot of e-mails, and I just wanted to thank you for reading mine. it really means a lot to me. thank you so much for everything, you really changed how I felt about the Holocaust. you taught me life lessons that I will never forget. thank you once again.” –
Briana, 8th grader, Eastport South Manor Jr/Sr High School, Manorville, NY
“My name is Anna. I am in the 8th Grade at Woodmere Middle School. Today, March 24th, 2015, you visited my school and told the student body your magnificent story about living through the Holocaust! I wanted to say thank you not only because you took time out of your schedule and came but because I understand how difficult it is to talk about such an experience. Rest Assured, everything you said was worth everyone’s time. I had a pleasure listening to you. Like you stated, we study, we learn, we hear from Secondary Sources, about the Holocaust, but it is so much more meaningful to listen to it from a person who has experienced this First-Hand. You have a very special place in my heart, and I will never forget you, your family and your experience. It will live on in my family.”
Once again, thank you so very much for everything you did and continue to do. I am truly honored to have met someone as wonderful as you!
Please continue to make the lives of each student brighter each and every day!” Yours truly, Anna T
“My name is Annie and I am an 8th grader at. St. Matthew School in Champaign, Il where you recently spoke. I also read your book this year with my literature class and was deeply touched by your courage and hope for a new life. I am involved with several extracurricular activities and sports, and have found your example of courage and hope inspiring when it’s late at night and I still have homework or when my team is losing its big game. Through reading your story, I have learned what real perseverance is about.
After reading your book I also learned that we should never take the small things for granted and always thank God for our family and friends for we never know when they will be taken from us. Your story was an inspiration to all who read it and I want to thank you for taking the time and effort to spread your story and awareness of what happened in the past. You have touched me and countless others with your story of courage and perseverance for a better life.”
– Annie, Champaign, IL
“Two years ago, I attended a reading by author Marion Blumenthal Lazan, a Holocaust survivor whose book, Four Perfect Pebbles, tells of her family’s experience in a Nazi concentration camp. Ms. Lazan’s story challenged me to fight prejudice and injustice, for there is no greater enemy among us than those who spread their ideals of racial superiority.
During her presentation, Ms. Lazan warned, “People like me who survived the Holocaust are old, and soon all of us will be gone. This leaves you, the leaders of tomorrow, with a great responsibility.” Her concerned words implied that the youth of today are responsible for carrying on her legacy, educating the world around us to prevent another Holocaust.
As a member of my school’s exclusive Positive Experiences in Educational Relationships group (PEER), I try to play an active role in combating the kind of learned hatred and fear that led to the wide-spread annihilation of innocent people. We conduct presentations at elementary schools, endeavoring to reach children at a young age, when it’s easier to counteract prejudice and instill tolerance.
Ms. Lazan’s courageous story gave me a new perspective on my life mission and chosen career path—as a child psychiatrist, I hope to initiate even more programs to help the youngest members of our society to accept and embrace people of all cultures.” –
Chelsea Gilchrist, High School Senior, Fairfax, VA
“Today I listened to Marion Blumenthal Lazan, a holocaust survivor, speak about her experience and her life and such. It was really inspiring and uplifting. Not to trivialize her story because it was immensely powerful but the thing I was most impressed by was her spirit. This woman is in her seventies and she was like a normal person who joked around and had a happy, relatable demeanor. Usually when I think of senior citizen-type people I think of slow walking, old people who are bad drivers and complain about aches and pains all the time, mostly because that’s how every single one of my grandparents are like. This woman was more alive than people my own age though! She was amazing. As ageist as this sounds, she was like a real person. My preconceptions about older people are innate, they’re in my mind without a second thought and she completely defied all of those. On top of everything she also talked a lot about her husband, Nathanial, who was there with her. She talked to him a few times in her speech and they had this beautiful dynamic. They are about to celebrate their fifty-fifth anniversary and I really feel like they are in love. I just got this sense of perfect comfort between them without any sort of complication and that is truly the greatest thing ever. If I get married It hope I can stay with that person for fifty-five years and still be so in love.
From a BLOG by Lauren
“I heard your story firsthand from you four years ago at my high school and everything about your story inspires me and always will. You and your family’s courage and will to keep going is truly amazing and you are such a huge inspiration to me. Please wish your mother a Happy Birthday Wish for me What an amazing woman!! Take Care and God Bless.”
Tracy Green – Illinois
“…the story you told touched my life in an unbelievable way. I have read the book (Four Perfect Pebbles) over and over again and each time felt something new…. But what I am thanking you for is that you came to speak to us. I feel so privileged to have heard your story first hand. …After your presentation, I asked if I could shake your hand and you hugged me. The hug is a memory I will forever hold with me. My life is different since I’ve learned of the Holocaust and your story. You are a wonderful person who has the strength and courage of 100 people. I guess to sum it up, you are my hero. Thank you for making that possible.”
Jamie Lynn Kelly, 8th grade student, Virden Middle School, Virden, IL
“Hi Mrs. Lazan my name is Nayali and I’m from Mexico. I live with my parents and my sister. When we come here, I didn’t know any word in English, then I had to take ESL in my new school, and I was very scared because I didn’t know how to speak English, but when you come to my school to tell us you story. I was listening and at the same time I was thinking that nothing is impossible. I learned a lot about you and your story. You are an example for everybody also you are an excellent women. I’ll never forget you.” – Nayali
“I am 15 years old and I have been questioning many things in my life. I get very frustrated and angry with myself. I have a tendency to look at the negative. After I finished the book, I try to look at things differently. I realize that I haven’t and still don’t realize how good I do have it.”
– Megan, Litchfield, MI
“I wish you could be my 3rd grandma.”
– Male Student, Robert E Lee High School, Tyler, TX
“You have recently made a visit to Athens Middle School,…..where I learned of your story. It has inspired me to bring a positive outlook to the occasion whenever possible. I am very glad that I had the chance to hear you speak first hand!!!!!!! It is something many people take for granted. And after school that day,….I spent all night thinking about the things so many individuals don’t think about, the little things, like not being able to brush your teeth! I have read the Diary of Anne Frank, and was very excited to purchase your book. While I hope you are able to talk to many others about the Holocaust, I hope that you will remember that you have made a big difference on how I think about that dark time in history.”
– Hannah, 7th grade student, Athens Middle School, IL
“I have read your book and I am so inspired by everything you said in your book, documentary, and what you said in school when you came. I really think you are an amazing person. I am only 12 years old, about the age you were in the Youth Aliyah group, right? Well, I have read so many book and actually met someone named Etuina Katz who was also a survivor. I really appreciate that you came to school and spoke like you did. I wish I could speak to you again or something. When you called on me to ask a question you said I was paying attention and really getting into it, which is very true. To be honest, I look up to you. You really show perseverance and courage and besides everything you went through, you’re one of the most cheerful people I met! When you said that we take things for granted that nobody would really notice they take it for granted, like beds, toothbrushes, bathroom privacy and good hearty meals, I prayed to God the night you said it. I was lying in bed and I thanked Him for all the things you mentioned. You really inspired me. I was crying when you said all you said. But when you sang ‘It’s a Small World”, I really felt it. “It’s a world of laughter, a world or tears its a world of hopes, its a world of fear, there’s so much that we share that it’s time we’re aware, its a small world after all.’ I really know it. The thing I must thank you for is giving me the chance to meet you and understand things I thought were only bad, but you gave me another outlook. You made everything positive and nobody really could do that. You’re wonderful. I will tell your story and pass it on. I think that even with the horror it was, it has to live on. And you taught me that, and I can’t thank you enough. Thank you so much.”
– Lauren, a 6th grader, Birch Elementary School , Merrick, NY
“We are very lucky to have had someone like you to tell your story. It was a once-in-a lifetime opportunity.”
– 5th grade students, Briggs Elementary School, Maquoketa, IA
“I would like to thank you for opening my eyes up to the tragedies of the Holocaust. I have purchased your book and read it all in one night; I just couldn’t put it down. I will forever remember you and your family, and what the Jewish People have gone through….”
– Niroopa Harpaul, Woodmere, NY
” No words of mine can ever express on how deeply you touched myself and so many others that day when you came to our school. …… You spoke with all your heart, and that is what made that afternoon so special. It was a real treat to learn about the Holocaust from you, not some library book. Your words were strong and left a great impact on all of the children who listened to you that day.”
– Rishi Vohra, Lawrence Middle School, Lawrence, NY
“……You don’t let your memories haunt you, and I think that your lectures will leave a permanent imprint on my heart, as well as my classmate’s. I hope other children around America can experience your Holocaust stories too.”
– Mehean Koo, Lawrence Middle School, Lawrence, NY
“…You made a difference in me and the way I saw the Holocaust through vivid details of a real experience than can express more than all the facts in a history textbook. I was very pleased to have had a conversation personally with you and to gain something to teach someone else.”
– Johnny Kapecki, Culver Military Academy, Culver, IN (from Justice, IL)
“One of the most important ideas I got from your presentation is never to generalize.”
– Oliver John Nelson, Culver Academy from Chestnut Hill, NY
“….I had figured it would be a lecture about things we had already heard about a thousand times over. To my surprise and delight however, you were most incredibly pleasant. You were especially personal and candid when it came to discussing your experiences as a young girl.….. You made it interesting because you had a personal side to the discussion, not just facts and statistics, but a real story I could relate to.”
– William J. Corso, Culver Academy, Culver, IN (from Sherman Oaks, CA
” I was especially interested in the questions that were asked, and how complete and specific your answers were. I found each answer to each question was very clear. While you were speaking I truly felt that I knew where you were coming from. Because you made everything so real, and everything that you said was so sincere that I was in awe the whole time I heard you speak of your experiences. You taught me that if you are in a bad situation to never give up hope, because sometimes hope is all you have and if you lose hope you will not have anything left.” – Amelia Rippy, Culver Academy, Culver, IN
“….I want you to know that you touched at least one little boy’s heart. I can look now and keep faith in whatever I believe in, no matter what. I can always look at a woman who stayed strong and toughed it out what ever it took. I thank you with all my heart.”
– Boma Pennebaker, Culver Academy
“Your story gave me a lesson. I learned never to give up.”
– Eric Arsenault, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Middletown, NY
“I really admired your part about love and respect. I am trying harder to really respect everybody.”
– Molly Plain, Our Lady of Mt. Carmel, Middletown, NY
“Ps We will be sure to pass your story onto to family and friends!!!”
– Lindsay & Alli, Woodland Middle School, East Meadow, NY
“You, Mrs. Lazan, have made me realize that whenever something bad is happening to someone that we should stand up and become rescuers rather than bystanders.”
– a student from Herricks Middle School, Albertson, NY
“After hearing you speak, I have decided to make one of my life long goals sharing your story and teaching people against prejudice. I want to do this so that nothing like the Holocaust ever happens again.”
– Karly Dorr, Cimarron Middle School, Edmond, OK
“Since you have come to our school I know that even though we might not look like each other we have to (have) respect and love for each other.”
– Sue Namgoong, 5th grade, Public School 79, Queens, NY
“You gave me something tapes, books and stories can’t give. You gave real life experiences. You told in (the) first person what happened.”
– Allison Augstein, 5th grade, Public School 79, Queens, NY
“I also want to thank you for the lessons in life.”
– Brett Englebrecht, Washington School, Pekin, IL
“When I heard that we were going to read it (FOUR PERFECT PEBBLES) in class, I was delighted. It is one of the few books with a message so strong that I didn’t mind reading it again.”
– Stephanie Brou, Cimarron Middle School, Edmond, OK
“…..meeting you in person touched me in a way your book couldn’t. Such insight, detail and emotion filled your morning presentation. …. I thought it was wonderful how you not only told of your experiences but you also related it to this day and age.” –
Lizzie Jacocks, Cimarron Middle School, Edmond, OK
“….hearing you in person was beyond words. Your courage and wonderful attitude were very encouraging.”
– Stacy Snider, Cimarron Middle School, Edmond, OK
” …. when you thanked all the people that fought during WW 11, I went home and talked with my family about it. My grandfather was a World War 11 veteran and I am even prouder of him then I ever was.”
– Laura Booth, Cimarron Middle School, Edmond, OK
“Not only did you teach me to treat others as equals, but you’ve taught me not to judge groups of people by one person’s actions.”
– Caitlin Fine, Cimarron Middle School, Edmond, OK
“…..you said that if you have changed at least one person in this room that you would be happy. I know for a fact that you have made lots of people think different(ly) about life.”
– Andrea McCudry, Cimarron Middle School, Edmond, OK
“A thousand thanks yous would never be enough to show you how I truly appreciated your visit!!!!”
– Kara San Joaquin, Cimaron Middle School, Edmond, OK
“I think you have changed the way I look at racism and racist acts dramatically. I just want to say thank you.”
– a student from Cimarron Middle School, Edmond, OK
“…….it’s one of the best I’ve read. I would rank your book in the top 10 in the world!!!!!!! Probably everyone in the class would say that too.”
– Bradley Doubet, Washington Intermediate School, Pekin, IL
“You have made a difference in my life.”
– Alexa Silverman, Lakeside School, Merrick, NY
“You have told me a story that I can never forget. I will never forget you….”
– Samantha Gufield, Lakeside School, Merrick, NY
“I learned from you to always look on the bright side of things, and you must always have hope and be optimistic. Thanks again!”
– Patty, Gates Chili Middle School, Rochester, NY
“I learned to always be grateful and never take it for granted.”
– Kelly Caisse – Gates Chili Middle school, Rochester, NY
“I think her story can spark a movement to help everyone be kind to one another.”
– Saiydah Gonzalez
My students and I would like to thank you for sharing so much of yourselves with us. We all enjoyed the private audience we had with you in the library.
My students wrote little messages to you. Hope you enjoy them.
Tobie Rosenberg, Smith School, Glastonbury, CT
Thank you for coming and visiting our school.
I enjoyed your company and you reminded me of my grandmother. David
I really enjoyed your speech. Something that I learned was to appreciate
everything that I have. I also enjoyed talking with you during 5th period. Cheyenne
And for giving the speech of your Holocaust story and how you survived. Stefan
I was very happy to see you. It made the book come so alive. When I think of all you went through I will care and be respectful to everyone and not waste a single thing. Thank you, Emma
It made the book more alive so I could believe it better. Nick
And for telling all about you and for sharing your personal items. Jisen
I learned that freedom is priceless just like family. I enjoyed learning this story. I appreciate your thoughts. Drew
And for telling us about your life story, I know it was hard for you to tell it, but you did and I appreciate that. Felipe
I enjoyed the private room when we talked more about your life. I think that thing you do with the toothpaste is smart. Jon
I really enjoyed seeing you in person and adding more detail to the book. I also want to thank you for signing my book. Bryan
I enjoyed you coming to tell us about your life. Kyle
Thank you for coming and telling us about your life. Nick
It meant a lot to me to meet a Holocaust survivor because I’ve been learning about this horrible event since I was little. Since I am Jewish, it made me learn how to appreciate the things I have. Tiffany
I enjoyed your speech and learning what it was like in the concentration camps. Alex
I learned to treat people equally. I enjoyed your presentation. Jordan
It touched me. Scott
It was educational. Ryan
I enjoyed your visit because I got to learn more about you and I understood better from your words what you went through. Monique
And teaching us a lesson about life. Thank you so much! I enjoyed listening to you! Daniela
I enjoyed your story, I thought that it teaches a very good lesson and show a good example. Amanda
I am so grateful that you came to our school and shared your story with us. I learned lots of things from your story. Rebecca
It really taught me a lot, and maybe someday when I have kids they will read the book also and like it as much as I did. Michelle
And telling us how it felt through those times. I can’t believe that you lived through it. I ‘m so glad you visited us it changed me a little. It changed my perspective of some things. Thanks! Samantha
I know everyone loved your story. I learned so much between the Holocaust history and not to waste food and take things for granted. I will share your story. Jisel
And making your story so real. I enjoyed the talk with you it was so awesome. T.J.
And for your wonderful presentation. It meant a lot to me, even though I have read the book you answered a few of my questions. John
I really enjoyed it and it learned a lot. Thank you, Brie
Thank you for sharing your story. Chaitanya
I learned a lot and many lessons from you speaking and your book. I thank you because I know it must be hard for you to share this story sometimes. Jillian
For sharing your personal ideas and thoughts and retelling your story. Sage
It was a lot better because we could ask you questions. And you signed our books. Thank you. Christian
I learned to cherish everything I take for granted. Rico
After rehearing the story again I felt so inspired by what you said. I really enjoyed your book. Kathryn
Thank you for coming