David Gewirtzman and Jacqueline Murekatete. Murekatete, now 19, survived the 1994 genocide in Rwanda in which the ruling Hutus murdered more than 500,000 ethnic Tutsis, including all of her immediate family. Gewirtzman was 11 when the Nazis invaded Poland. For two years, he and seven others hid in a muddy pit under a pigsty, surviving on bread and potatoes left by the farmer they paid to hid them. Only 16 of his town’s 8,000 Jews survived the Holocaust. Today, Jacqueline and David tell their stories to young people, to insure that future generations understand the enormous consequences of racial, religious and ethnic hate.
Rabbi Seth and Sherri Mandell. In 1996, the Mandells immigrated to Israel from Maryland. Their oldest son, Koby, then 13 years old, and a friend skipped school to go hiking and subsequently went missing. Both of their bodies were found the next day, brutally stoned to death, in a cave in the Judean desert. They were among the first victims of the second Palestinian “Intifada.” The Mandells coped with their son’s death by turning their grief into hope and healing. They first organized informal support groups for bereaved parents, which led to family retreats, and ultimately to Camp Koby, where young victims of terror, and siblings and children of terror victims find support and strength to heal.
Detective Doug Comfort and Sergeant Dean Lay. Comfort, a detective in the Fairfax County Police Department, has spent nearly 30 years investigating hate groups and violent gangs. After September 11, he and his partner Sgt. Dean Lay were assigned to counterterrorism. Comfort and Lay are now regarded by federal prosecutors as among the best and most successful teams in the country at cracking terrorist networks in the U.S., and bringing their members to justice.
David Smith and Sandra Roberts. In 1998, Smith and Roberts, both educators at Whitwell Middle School in Whitwell, Tennessee, looked for a way to teach about diversity and the Holocaust at their school. They wanted to find a way to make the number of people killed in the Holocaust concrete and personal. This was achieved by having the students collect 11 million paperclips to represent each of the lives lost. These were placed in a railway car which was dedicated as a memorial on November 9, 2001, the anniversary of Kristallnacht.
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