Following the recent Stand Up! Speak Out! Lend A Hand! videoconference, Gerda Weissmann Klein wrote a most moving and eloquent letter to student participants. We are grateful to the Klein Foundation for permission to share this message with school groups who will have the privilige of hearing Mrs. Klein speak in Battle Creek, Michigan on April 16, 2007.
January 17, 2007 (Evening)
Dear Young Friends,
I am very tired but sleep does not come. I close my eyes and the images of today come vividly alive. You, how many are there of you?? Are you hundreds, thousands—- so young, so beautiful, so vital? Where are you? Are you asleep in your beds with the strong sleep of the young? How can you possibly know what you have done for me today? What you have given me…a gift of undreamed proportions— not only reaching out to others but its keen understanding that made you do it.
To the child who never rode a tricycle before, the cookies you baked for an old man perhaps without teeth to taste the sweetness of sugar and the sweetness of your caring. The website you built to let it be known that you are ready to listen to those who need help, who cry out in despair that you have listening ears and keen understanding of what their problems might be. The old lame deaf veterans you have visited who once were as young and nimble as you climbing the cliffs of Normandy to free Europe from the scorch of hatred. How much pride they must have taken in your visit of caring.
I heard the noise of your hammers with which you built homes for the homeless. Of the 440 in one school who brought mountains of canned goods who are hungry. You were wise to choose January and February to bestow your cares on the needy and hungry knowing that the holidays would be over and often the bounty of giving forgotten. You the angels in the attic creating SAFE HAVEN to fulfill the needs, the often unspoken needs of those you have found in need of caring. You, the high school students who went to grade schools to open their eyes and hearts of your small sisters and brothers to other cultures and joys of understanding. You who are planning a rally in support of celebrating diversity in your community.
You all standing up, speaking out, making a difference. Leaving your handprints not only on the wall you have created but on humanity’s needs and fulfilling my dream lifting community service to the noblest deed one can perform.
The breathtaking dance of the women imprisoned in burkas, gave eloquence in their silence and lifting their veils as if a promise of a new spring. But the greatest and most cherished gift you gave me is the understanding of your own lives gifts and the appreciation of the life you are privileged to live.
I embrace you and your teachers with gratitude and love,
Gerda Weissmann Klein
Thank you and my eternal gratitude for the gift of the exquisite book which you gave me. It will find a treasured place in my home and always in my heart.