Ellen is a Second Generation Storykeeper who grew up in California and lives with her family in Westchester County, NY.
- Which workshop did she take? Safekeeping Stories of the Holocaust Workshop led by Jill Sarkozi in 2016.
- Who did she write about? Her mother-in-law, also named Ellen Kaidanow, who was from Dubno, Poland.
“I’m coming with you,” Ellen heard her mother-in-law say defiantly as she picked up the phone early one morning. Ellen was soon leaving for her mother-in-law’s former hometown of Dubno, Ukraine. “I’ve been thinking about it all night. I’m coming,” she insisted.
“Honestly, I was nervous,” Ellen said about receiving this call. “My mother-in-law lost her mother, father, two sisters, grandparents, and other relatives during the Holocaust. She was in her eighties and had not been back since the war. I was concerned that this trip would be too much for her.”
With her mother-in-law’s blessing, Ellen had been sharing her story in schools to teach about the Holocaust through the Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center’s GenerationsForward Speakers Bureau.”I want to teach students the importance of being an upstander,” explained Ellen. “I also want to continue to educate myself.” Before her trip to Dubno, Ellen was co-leading the Safekeeping Stories Journey to Poland which included visits to Auschwitz, Treblinka, and Majdanek.
“The word that comes to mind to describe our trip to Dubno is bashert,” Ellen was relieved to say. Not only did they pass fields and fields of sunflowers (the Storykeeper symbol) driving from Lviv to Dubno, but they made incredible and unexpected connections to people from the past. “Tears literally flowed from my eyes every few hours,” Ellen said of the 24 hours they were there.
“The trip was empowering for my mother-in-law. She was able to verify parts of her story and that was very validating. We still talk about it as one of the most meaningful experiences of our lives.”
Read about their amazing trip to Dubno after reading the prewar and wartime Slices.