My Mentor: My Dad

By Sarah Griswold
I never slept at naptime as a kid and did not appreciate bedtime much either. Since my mom always put my younger brother Peter to bed, my dad assumed the challenge of quieting me down. He met the task with patience and energy, Little House on the Prairie only rarely lulling him to sleep in mid-sentence.

There was one type of book that always kept us both awake: the atlas. A family friend had given me a large, beautifully illustrated children’s atlas. Rich with color and life, it covered swathes of the USA in dark green trees and filled the oceans on either side with silver fish. But the section I remember most was EUROPE. We pored over EUROPE, little multi-colored flags and tiny pictorial representations denoting each country. Goats, skiers, fishing boats, miniature Renaissance paintings– Continue reading ‘My Mentor: My Dad’

Ernst Borinski

By Myrna Knepler

Ernst Borinski was a good friend of my late husband, Henry Knepler.
Both Europeans, they had met at the University of Chicago and travelled together in their grad student days. Later Ernst stayed with us several times in our home in Hyde Park, Chicago.

These were wonderful visits and inspiring. Ernst’s optimism and determination to find solutions rather than sit around discussing the problem in the manner of university intellectuals was continually displayed. These qualities must have been a large part of what made him key in changing the lives of so many people. Being with him always lifted my spirits.

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My Mentor: Libby Resnick

By Helen Schulman

My aunt Libby Resnick had a profound influence on my life. She was my mother’s sister the youngest of 5 children and arrived in the USA at the age of five. Aunt Libby was the first in her family to graduate college and became a Teacher of the Deaf at JHS 47 M in the 40’s. She was a working wife and mother when others of her generation stayed home to raise their children. As a young child she allowed me to accompany her to school and observe her as she taught deaf children to communicate orally and prepared them for a productive life in the hearing world. It was through her influence that I too became a teacher of the deaf; a career that lasted almost 30 years. Afflicted with MS in her forties she continued to work as a teacher and then a teacher trainer for many years. Her love and devotion to her students was repaid many times over as many remained in close contact with her well into their adult years. Aunt Libby was ahead of her time as a proponent of including children with special needs into the educational mainstream. I miss her wise cousel and will always be grateful for her love and guidance.

My Mentor: Elin Morgan

By Jessica LoMonaco

Growing up in New York City as a child, I was supposed to be exposed to a surplus of mentors and people around to guide me. In reality, through, very few people have managed to enter my life and stick around through the ups and downs; I could probably count them on one hand. When I saw that the Museum had started sharing stories about mentors, one lovely lady stood out in my memory, Elin Morgan.

I met Elin when I was 13-years-old through a program called City at Peace. The City at Peace auditions were held the first week of my first year in High School, in September of 2001. I attended New Utrecht High school where I didn’t know a single person but was comforted by the beautiful skyline views and the bustling energy of high school. We all know what happened that month.

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My Mentor: Marvin Polonsky

By Warren Shalewitz

My mentor was my 7th grade Social Studies teacher, at Junior High School 109 in Queens Village, NY, Mr. Marvin Polonsky. Early on he taught us that history is a living subject, not just the the memorization of dates and events for an exam. He explained how we can learn from the past and also that people do not always learn lessons from the past. Now 50 years later working at the Museum of Jewish Heritage I see how wise his words were. Lessons are learned and not.

Mr. Polonsky came up with unique projects to create interest for the class. One that particularly stands out was a map of Manhattan done with paper mache and made to scale. We all were able to participate by putting pieces of wood which were scale models of the blocks of the borough. When completed the map was exhibited at the NYC Building in Flushing Meadows Park which now houses the Queens Museum of Art. Just recently Mr. Plonsky, now retired, visited the Museum. It was really nice to see the best teacher that I had as a NYC student.

My Mentor: Martin Schultz

By Richard Farber

My mentor was my tenth grade Math teacher Martin Schultz. He was a good instructor who inspired his students. In addition to his intellect he always was well dressed and a good athlete. He was cordial and pleasant to me. I was interested in literature and I asked Mr. Schultz what his favorite book was. He told me and soon brought in his copy of “The Fountainhead” for me to read. The personal relationships he formed with his students was what made him special.

At the end of the school year there was a student-faculty basketball game. I had a good time cheering for the faculty team while Mr. Schultz played.

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My Mentor, My Friend

By Ann Barandes      

As a rookie Gallery Educator at the Museum of Jewish Heritage—A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, I was eager to befriend a seasoned one. Her passion for our museum moved me.  From her enthusiasm, I knew that volunteering would be an extraordinary experience. Nancy Fisher really belongs to all of us at MJH. Her generosity is legendary; her zeal infectious. Thanks for exciting me, dear Nancy. I’ll pay it forward.

Have a Story to Share?

Do you have a mentor who inspired you? Share your experience with us. E-mail your story (and photo if you have one) to and be sure to return to this page often to read more inspiring stories.

Ernst Borinski and Donald Cunnigen

In this clip, Professor Donald Cunnigen, a former student at Tougaloo College, explains how his mentor Professor Ernst Borinski helped form his view of the world. View the clip and then help us answer the question: Who Has Inspired You?

The Exhibition

Beyond Swastika and Jim Crow was created by the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.

The exhibition will be on view at the William Breman Jewish Heritage Museum in Atlanta from June 24 – December 9, 2012.