Learning from the Righteous, which gained charitable status in February 2017, is led by author and educationalist, Antony Lishak who has been involved in Holocaust Education for most of his 35-year career in education. Antony has written over twenty children’s books and it was while researching his teenage novel STARS (set in The Warsaw Zoo during World War Two) that his profound academic interest in The Holocaust drove him to explore his own Polish-Jewish roots. It was a pivotal moment – after spending almost 40 years encouraging children to find their own voice, he had suddenly discovered a vehicle that enabled him to find his.
Antony hopes that by encouraging children to empathise with the stark choices faced by both victims and bystanders during The Holocaust, Learning from the Righteous will help them to reflect on their own place in world.
Lili Pohlmann was born in Lvov in 1930 and was brought up, with her brother Uriel, in Krakow by her parents Cecylia and Filip Stern. Lili’s family suffered terribly at the hands of the Nazis in the Lvov Ghetto. She owes her survival to two courageous non-Jews, a German civilian who was attached to the Nazi occupying forces in Lvov, Irmgard Wietch, and the Greek Catholic Archbishop of the city, Andrey Sheptytsky, both of whom provided Lili with a safe haven at considerable personal risk. On 29th March 1946 Lili arrived in London as part of a group of Polish Jewish children brought to the UK by Rabbi Dr Solomon Schonfeld, who was determined to provide young survivors with a new life in this country.
Lili is a passionate humanitarian who has dedicated herself to educating people about The Holocaust and building bridges between the Polish and Jewish communities. In 2007 she was awarded one of Poland’s highest accolades, The Commander’s Cross of Polonia Restituta, in recognition of her work.
Lili is a lifelong advocate of the power of education and we are proud that her name is associated with our charity.
Lord Eric Pickles, Kt PC, was MP for Brentwood and Ongar for 25 years. He was appointed United Kingdom’s Special Envoy for post-Holocaust issues in 2015 and, alongside Ed Balls, is currently co-chair of the UK Holocaust Memorial Foundation.
“I am delighted to support Learning from the Righteous. It is dedicated to ensuring that a child’s earliest educational encounter with The Holocaust is age-appropriate, engaging and relevant. Since its inception in 2015 it has been my pleasure to witness the sensitivity and rigour of their approach and to see first-hand the profound effect their workshops have had on the children who take part. By learning about acts of rescue and resistance within their broader historical context children are encouraged to consider the courageous few who chose not to be bystanders and to see themselves as agents of change. The deeds of rescuers should be a source of inspiration for us all. Few people are called upon to put their lives on the line and face the dilemma of whether or not to act, under challenging circumstances. Inspiring children with such role models of humanity and altruism helps bring the age-old plea of ‘never again’ a little bit closer.”
Simon has been involved in fight against racism and antisemitism throughout his adult life. Inspired by his father’s presence at Cable street in 1936, Simon marched as a teenager against the National Front on 1970’s.
He passionately believes that communicating the stories of Gentiles who helped Jewish people during the Second World War is a powerful way of encouraging young people to stand up and protect the weak, whoever and wherever they may be.
A practising solicitor, Simon’s clients include not-for-profit organisations involved in cross-communal activities such as Hope Not Hate, Faith Matters, Inspire and Community Security Trust.
Lawrence Gould is an entrepreneurial ACA and has a demonstrable ability in launching, developing and growing businesses. As CFO at Getty Images, Lawrence managed organic and acquisition growth of £10m to £100m and floated the company on NASDAQ. He also co-founded and launched Citywire, the first SFA regulated financial news site, obtaining investment from Thomson Reuters. He has applied his commercial and financial acumen across many industries, from media to recruitment to the charity sector. Lawrence is currently non-Exec director / advisor to a network of growth companies including Locums Nest (Doctors App), Youthsight (market research) and Shoot Gardening (online garden design and support). He is also a mentor for the incubator, Work Avenue, and the Treasurer of One to One Children’s Fund.
Natalie has been active and worked in the community for 15 years as a community centre manager and service marketing for Jewish Care. Together with a background in informal education and heritage programming, as well as her knowledge of the not for profit sector, and community partnerships she is able to use her expertise as a trustee for Learning from the Righteous.
Natalie is proud and delighted to help shape and advise this remarkable organisation. Helping educate young people to see and be inspired by the heroic acts and risks people took to save others during the Holocaust is more crucial than ever.
Scott grew up with virtually no known connection to the Holocaust, other than the fact that he was Jewish. An international career saw him living together with his family in New York, Tokyo and Hong Kong working for big names such as UBS and JP Morgan.
He attended a commemoration evening for Chiune Sugihara, former Japanese diplomat who served as vice-consulate for Japan in Lithuania, who at the risk of his own execution, defied his own Government’s orders to save more than 3,500 Jewish families during the Holocaust by issuing them with transit visas. He found out that an elderly gentleman in synagogue called Joseph Shimkin had been one of the recipients of these visas and had arrived in Japan on the very last boat in 1941. Scott was so inspired that he decided to further his own research and learning in that when he returned to the UK in 2010 he completed a Masters in Modern Jewish History and reached out to the International March of the Living to set up the UK branch of March of the Living.
Scott became involved in Learning from the Righteous to continue dedicating his time to using people’s past as an inspiration to better many young people’s futures.
Jonathan Wittenberg was born in Glasgow to a German Jewish refugee family. After reading English at Cambridge and training to be a teacher he studied for the rabbinate at Leo Baeck College, London, and in Israel, following family tradition. He was appointed Rabbi of the New North London Masorti Synagogue in 1987 and Senior Rabbi of the Assembly of Masorti Synagogues UK in 2008.
He has served as hospice chaplain, participates in the work of many interfaith organisations, including as a president of the Council of Christians and Jews, is a passionate advocate for the environment, and has been the European representative of the (Conservative Movement’s) Rabbinical Assembly for several years.
He teaches and speaks widely in the UK and beyond and has often been on Radio 4’s Prayer for the Day. His publications include The Eternal Journey: Meditations on the Jewish Year (2001), The Silence of Dark Water: An Inner Journey (2008), Walking with the Light (2013) and My Dear Ones: One Family and The Final Solution (2016). He is married to Nicola Solomon; they have three children and a dog.
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Learning from the Righteous, which gained charitable status in February 2017, is led by author and educationalist, Antony Lishak. He has been an educator for over thirty-five years and has written more than thirty books. Antony has been involved in Holocaust Education for most of his career.
After publishing STARS, a teenage novel based upon an act of rescue in Warsaw during WW2, he began to develop a range of teaching resources specifically designed to elicit empathetic responses from children aged between 10 and 14 by focussing their attention on the choices that made such acts of compassion so exceptional. These resources formed the basis of workshops which, in the last two years, have been rolled out to over 2,000 children in 15 schools.
Our aim is to further mutual understanding by encouraging participants to devise practical ways of making a difference to the lives of others. To achieve this and widen the reach of our work throughout the United Kingdom, we are rolling out an expanded workshop programme. Each workshop will focus on a specific act of rescue and the teachers leading the workshops will have the opportunity to attend training days to acquire the knowledge and confidence to use our interactive resource packs effectively.
Mr Simon Gallant (Chair)
Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg
Mr Richard Gold
Mr Lawrence Gould
Mr Scott Saunders
Mrs Ela Barrass
Mrs Natalie Burger
“Have you ever felt discriminated against? I have, and it is horrible. It needs to stop. And if you see it, don’t ignore it, get involved and help. Because that victim could easily be you.”
Erika Choroszkiewicz age 14, St Jadwiga Królowej Polski Polish School