Along the journey of sharing this inspirational story Marty has conducted speaking series in multiple cities around the country in addition to his home base of the San Francisco Bay Area.
New York Fall 2019 Speaking Series
Event #1: Sunday, Oct. 27th marked the first of six events Marty Brounstein is having in the greater New York City area, sharing his inspirational story Two Among the Righteous Few. The setting this Sunday was at a quaint and historic church, First Presbyterian Church in Carlstadt, NJ — a church celebrating its 150th anniversary. Warmly hosted by the Rev. Donald Pitches (pictured left with the author), Marty did his storytelling presentation as the sermon within the worship service. Rev. Pitches is pictured below with Marty. The congregation was riveted on the story, inspired by the courage and compassion of Frans and Mien Wijnakker, and surprised and moved when Marty revealed his meaningful personal connection at the end. A big thanks to Rev. Pitches for welcoming Marty to his church and giving him a very welcoming and receptive audience.
Museum of Jewish Heritage, Event #2 The second of four public storytelling events for Marty on his speaking series in the greater New York area turned out very well on Tuesday, Oct. 29th. It took place at the Museum of Jewish Heritage: A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. This is one of the renowned Holocaust museums in the country. It’s in a beautiful building at a beautiful site. So this was an honor to be able to deliver the presentation on the two unsung heroes Marty represents, Frans and Mien Wijnakker. The room for the program was filled. Always a big plus when that happens. Furthermore, the audience on hand showed great interest and appreciation for the inspirational story, asking very thoughtful questions too. A big thanks to the Museum and its Public Programs Manager, Samantha Shokin, for delivering a quality program. Of special note, Marty’s first interview in New York a couple of days before was with podcast host Alexander Garrett. Not only did Alex plug Marty’s events on his show but he came himself to this event on Tuesday. Thanks for the great support!
A Good Day on Long Island The third of four public storytelling events in the greater New York area for Marty with his special story occurred on Sunday afternoon, November 3rd at Congregation Beth Ohr in Bellmore, Long Island. A good turnout was on hand who was a very receptive audience. They asked many good questions after hearing the storytelling presentation and expressed appreciation for this story of rescue and Marty’s journey in sharing it over the years. A big thanks goes to Bill Berkowitz who made this program happen. Bill leads a seniors group with the congregation who has taken the lead to organize programs for the congregation and community at large. Bill did a great job helping bring in a good audience and making sure everything ran smoothly for the event. Much appreciated. So far so good on the journey of sharing this special story of Frans and Mien Wijnakker in New York.
Interfaith Unity at Its Best The final public storytelling presentation event in Marty’s New York area speaking series ended the trip on a high note. It took place at Sutton Place Synagogue in Manhattanand was co-hosted by Christ Church of New York and St. James Episcopal Church with their respective clergy leaders Rev. Stephen Baumann and The Rev. Brenda Husson on hand. Marty was the keynote speaker for this commemoration event of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass in November 1938 — the riot and rampage against Jews in Nazi Germany, Austria, and the Nazi-annexed region of Sudetenland in Czechoslovakia that saw the Holocaust only become worse as World War II soon broke out in Europe. Rabbi Rachel Ain of Sutton Place Synagogue spearheaded this event happening. She learned of Marty through one of his supporters and a colleague of hers, Pastor Amandus Derr of nearby St. Peters Lutheran Church, who had Marty as his keynote speaker last May for Holocaust Remembrance Day. Due to a death in the family Rabbi Ain was away so Board President Shari Pochapin filled in for her. She and the other two clergy leaders spoke beautifully this evening, expressing concerns about the rising tide of anti-Semitism and acts of hate and the importance of promoting unity and respect for all. This set the tone beautifully for Marty’s inspirational story of courage and compassion, featuring the heroics of Frans and Mien Wijnakker — an interfaith story at its best. The audience of 80 or more on hand greatly appreciated this story. The Q & A lasted nearly a half hour. Every instance it seemed time was right to do the final wrap-up, another person had a question to ask. The concern came up, as it does periodically on Marty’s journey, about the divisive nature in our cultural climate today with political leaders who contribute to it by their words or by their lack of speaking out against such hateful behavior. Marty again was able to reinforce how this interfaith story he shares helps promote the values of respect and unity, so critical for our times today. Even better, once again, many people were touched by this inspirational story, especially Marty’s meaningful personal connection in it. A big thanks to Harriet Janover, the Programs Director at Sutton Place Synagogue, for being the point person who helped the event run smoothly.
Plus Two School Programs 1) Manetto Hill Jewish Center in Plainview, NY on October 28th This involved leading book discussion with the 7th grade students plus a few of their 6th grade students of this after-school religious education program of this synagogue. The synagogue’s religious school director, Ruth Kravit, also pulled in the 7th grade students of nearby Good Shepherd Lutheran Church led by Pastor Eric Olsen. The two congregations have had a strong interfaith relationship for many years, and this made for a great opportunity to share in the discussion together. The students involved had read much of the book in advance as was the plan. They offered good insights from the story and picked up well on the lessons the story teaches for their lives today and the future. Elyce Luks, the teacher from the synagogue, and Pastor Eric had their students prepared for the discussion and offered good insights themselves for the group as well. In all, a very rich session of good learning for all involved. An interfaith group for an interfaith story at its best. A big thanks to Ruth Kravit who pulled all this together.
2) Somers High School in Lincolndale, NY on November 5th Spearheaded by history teacher Stephanie Catania, Marty came into her seniors history class for discussion on the special story. While Stephanie could not fit in having the students read the book in advance (The school did purchase a class set of the books for future use.), instead the Interview the Author program was done. She provided her students with some information about the story in advance and prepared them to write two questions for the session. When Marty came to the class, the students were well prepared. They offered very thoughtful and relevant questions that stirred much discussion and learning about the story of Frans and Mien Wijnakker. Every student got involved in the session and, very special, the discussion also steered towards the lessons the students should apply from the story. They showed much interest and appreciation for this inspirational story. A big thanks to Stephanie Catania for giving Marty a great class to visit with. The Interview the Author program was a big success.