A Survivor's Story: Dr. Richard Bugajer

Students in my class and Melanie Shaul’s class in Hadera, Israel, read the autobiography of Dr. Richard Bugajer, My Shadowlife. Melanie and I met his widow in Vienna, on a Centropa summer trip, where we designed this project. Each class read the entire book and then made PowerPoint presentations about each chapter – and then sent their presentations to each other to see how students in another country would understand the same story. My students noticed that the Israeli students had more of a sense of community than they did, since the Israeli students had included information about their own families and communities. My students felt the Israeli students were more aware of their own parents’ stories than my pupils were. In my class, we also read the story of Morris Glass, a Holocaust survivor who lives in North Carolina who came from the same town as Dr Bugajer and was in the same camps at roughly the same time. Each time we learned of a place, a town, a camp, we searched the Centropa database to learn more. For example, we searched for photographs from and information about Kielce, Poland, since this is where both survivors were from. As with any lesson in which I teach about Jewish life, throughout this project we referred to Down Home: Jewish Life in North Carolina, so students could see what was happening with Jews in North Carolina during the same period they were learning about Jewish life in Europe.