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Mark Hoffman

"I'm proud to support Jewish Federation’s Holocaust Council as a donor and a partner. Their work greatly enhances my ability to make an impact on my students."

When did you get involved with Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ?

My family joined Adath Shalom in Morris Plains shortly after moving to Mountain Lakes in 1995.  For his 2004 Bar Mitzvah, our older son participated in the Holocaust Council’s “Twin With a Survivor” program, spending several hours 1-on-1 with Ed Bindel z”l to learn Ed’s story as a hidden child in Poland. Prior to the Holocaust Council involvement, we participated in Mitzvah Fairs coordinated by Federation.

How are you involved?

After a career in investments, I became a Social Studies teacher in 2005, first in Denville’s middle school. The curriculum included a Holocaust unit, and once again my path crossed with the Federation’s Holocaust Council. We arranged for our very dear friend and fellow Adath Shalom member Olga Menczer to tell her story of survival. Today, I teach at Mountain Lakes High School where I noticed that a Holocaust Studies elective had long since disappeared from the course list. Administration agreed to my request to bring the course back, in hopes that at least 10 students would enroll.  I’m now teaching the course for the 10th time, with enrollment each semester ranging from 13 to 26 students.

In 2019, Federation’s Holocaust Council Professionals encouraged me to apply for a scholarship to attend the Centropa Summer Academy through the Paula and Jerry Gottesman Supporting Foundation. Upon acceptance, I joined a group of educators from four continents for a transformative week in Berlin.  We learned to teach the lessons of the Holocaust in a personal way, using Centropa’s extensive resources of family histories, photos, and videos. We toured several sites in Berlin that deepened my knowledge of the period, and we heard from speakers who opened my eyes to Germany’s ways of dealing with that history today.

What motivates you to stay involved?

Federation, through the Holocaust Council, has enriched my students’ educations in ways I could not do alone. The highlight of each semester is time with a survivor, arranged through the Holocaust Council’s “Keeping The Stories Alive” or “Class Adopt a Survivor” programs. My students realize how fortunate they are to be among the last who will learn about the Holocaust first-hand.

What would you tell someone who is thinking about getting involved with or donating to Federation?

I would want others to know that participation with our Federation programs can create a ripple effect that will sustain our Jewish community. When Jamie Carus of the Holocaust Council introduces our guests, she emphasizes the students’ obligation to tell friends and family about the testimonies they will hear—to become a link in the chain that will connect future generations to these vital stories. We can all become that link.

I’m proud to support Jewish Federation’s Holocaust Council as a donor and a partner.  Their work greatly enhances my ability to make an impact on my students.