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Elaine Culbertson
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Stephen Feinberg
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A Celebration and Memorial of the life of Vladka Meed

Our beloved teacher, Vladka Meed ז"ל (born Feige Peltel Miedzyrzecki), a heroic member of the Warsaw Ghetto resistance and a dedicated eye-witness and teacher to thousands about the lives of those who perished in the Shoah, died at her daughter's home in Scottsdale, AZ, on November 21, 2012.

Vladka MeedOn Sunday afternoon, February 3rd, 2013, more than 300 people attended a memorial and celebration of the extraordinary life and influence of Vladka Meed that was held at Temple Emanu-el, in Manhattan. While the auditorium was filling with family, friends, and alumni of the Teachers’ Program, a slide show of photos of Vladka’s life was shown.  The pictures detailed her experiences as a Jew posing as an Aryan on the other side of the wall in Warsaw in 1943, her marriage and life with Ben, the childhoods of Anna and Steven, their children, and the growth of their family as marriages and grandchildren became a reality.

Vladka & Ben MeedInterspersed with family photos were photos of Vladka and Ben with dignitaries that they met while working on the founding and opening of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum and while Ben was president of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust survivors. These included President Carter, Presidents Bush 41 and 43, President and Mrs. Clinton,  and Israeli  presidents Shimon Peres, and Itzhak Rabin.

Vladka’s beloved program, the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Teachers Program was well represented in photos that were sent in by alumni. There were photos from the very first years of the program up to the last time that Vladka traveled with the group in 2008 and the last alumni conference that she attended.

The Program

  Rabbi Posner Steven Meed  
  Dr. David Posner, Senior Rabbi of Temple Emanu-El, gave the invocation. Steven Meed, the son of Vladka and Benjamin Meed, introduced the program and gave a eulogy for his mother, filled with light-hearted and mellow reminiscences.  

During the program, Vladka and Benjamin Meed’s five grandchildren introduced speakers and read messages from freinds and alumni of our program.
  Jeannine Scherzer   Chava Meed Jonathan Meed
Jessica
Meed
Jeannine Scherzer Michael Scherzer Chava
Meed
Jonathan Meed

1. Jessica Meed spoke about her grandmother as a model for her family.

  • Genia Reznic, Ben’s sister travel from her home Israel to speak about her long and loving relationship with Vladka.

  • Part 1 of a video on Vladka

2. Jeannine Scherzer spoke about her grandmother’s love for and involvement with the Yiddish world.

  Zalman Mlotek Masha Leon Anna Scherzer
  Zalman Mlotek, Artistic Director of the Folksbiene, National Yiddish Theater. He spoke on The Bund, Yiddish culture, and family friends. Masha Leon, a Holocaust survivor, author and columnist for The Forward. She told of her personal reminiscences of Vladka. Anna Scherzer, Vladka’s daughter, sang the Yiddish song "Zum In Mariv" accompanied by Zalman Mlotek

3. Michael Scherzer spoke about his grandmother’s involvement with the cause of remembrance.

 
Roman Kent
Michael Berenbaum Sara Bloomfield
  Roman Kent, Chairman of The American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants. He reminisced about his long working relationship with Vladak and Ben. Rabbi Michael Berenbaum, Director of Sigi Ziering Institute and Professor of Jewish Studies at the American Jewish University. He talked about Vladka's placce in history. Sarah Bloomfield, Director, United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, reminisced about planning together with Vladka on many projects.
  • Part 2 of a video on Vladka

4. Chava Meed spoke about her grandmother’s dedication to the Teachers’ Program.

  Elaine Culbertson Susan Meyers  
  Elaine Culbertson, Director of the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Teachers’ Program, spoke on the legacy of “Vladka’s teachers.” Susan Myers, Executive Director of the Holocaust Museum Houston spoke of her experiences both as a participant and as a leader.  
  • You may read Elaine's comments by clicking here.

  • The alumni were asked to stand. It was the only time during the service that the audience applauded as more than 50 alumni who came from all over the country rose to their feet.

5. Jonathan Meed was responsible for the internet memorial site, handling of the video and introduced his aunt

  • Anna Scherzer sang another Yiddish song, Unter Dayne Vayse Shtern (“Under Your White Starry Heaven”). 

This song was written in the Vilno ghetto, words by Avraham Sutskever (1913-2010); music by Abraham Brudno (?-1944). It was first presented in the ghetto theater in the play Di Yogenish in Fas ("The Hunt in the Barrel," a pun on Diogenes in a barrel.) It was first sung by Zlate Katcherginsky. After the liquidation of the ghetto, Sutskever joined the partisan fighters. He survived the war and lived in Israel. The composer, Abraham Brudno, following the liquidation of the ghetto, was deported to a German concentration camp in Estonia, where he died.

Steven Meed concluded the program by thanking all who had attended. The program ended with embraces and fond farewells as the group left the auditorium and ventured into the icy cold of New York.


Vladka Meed, Warsaw Uprising Leader

Vladka MeedVladka Meed was a member of the Jewish underground in the Warsaw Ghetto from its first days. Meed's book, On Both Sides of the Wall, recounts how she served in the resistance by passing as a Christian outside the Warsaw Ghetto. Because of her typically "Aryan" appearance, and fluency in Polish, she was not only able to smuggle weapons to the Jewish Fighting Organization inside the ghetto, but also to help Jewish children escape from the ghetto to be sheltered in Christian homes.

After the war, Vladka Meed continued to lecture on the Holocaust, and, together with her husband, Benjamin Meed ז"ל, was extremely active in Holocaust education and memorialization.

Tributes to Vladka Meed

Many of our alumni will remember Michael Berenbaum speaking to us both in Europe and at our alumni conference. His article on Vladka Meed was published in The Jewish Forward. It is reproduced here.

"Vladka Meed, courier for the Jewish resistance during WWII, dies at 90," The Washington Post. November 22, 2012.

"Vladka Meed, 90, weapons smuggler for Jewish resistance in Poland," The Boston Globe. November 24, 2012.

Vladka Meed was a Vice President of the Jewish Labor Committee and member of their Executive Committee. The Jewish Labor committee posted an article on Vladka on its website.

"Vladka Meed, who with her flawless Polish and Aryan good looks was able to smuggle pistols, gasoline for firebombs and even dynamite to the Jewish fighters inside the Warsaw Ghetto, and who after the war became an impassioned leader in the national effort to educate children about the Holocaust, died Wednesday in Phoenix. She was 90." The New York Times, November 26, 2012. It is reproduced here.

On March 20, 2009, Rochelle G. Saidel wrote an article on "Vladka Meed" for the Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia. It is reporduced here.

Vladka Meed in Her Own Words

Vladka MeedRealPlayer must be installed on your computer to see these testimonies.

Vladka describes the deportation of her mother and brother from the Warsaw ghetto to Treblinka.

Vladka describes her reaction to the burning of the Warsaw ghetto as she watched from a building outside the ghetto.