Holocaust survivor and children’s author Marion Blumenthal Lazan, who has lived in Hewlett for more than 50 years, is set to launch an English-language read-a-thon for hundreds of schoolchildren on an upcoming visit to Israel.
The ninth annual A.H.A.V.A. read-a-thon, lasting five weeks, will see hundreds of students from 14 schools in Maaleh Adumim and the surrounding area sponsored to read English books, improving their language skills while raising funds for the organization’s scholarship fund. Last year, participants read 2,780 books, raising a record 21,000 NIS, helping it subsidize English tuition.
Lazan was interned in 1939 at the age of four with her family at the Westerbork camp in Holland; five years later, they were imprisoned in the notorious Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.
Four Perfect Pebbles, a memoir of her experiences written for children, was published in 1996 and has been translated into Dutch, German, and Japanese. It has also been made into a documentary film, Marion’s Triumph, released in 2003.
Lazan—who has spoken at over 1,000 schools across the U.S., Germany, and Israel—will launch the event by telling her Holocaust story at the Religious High School for the Sciences in Maaleh Adumim on December 29. She says, “My childhood Shoah experiences and story convey a message of perseverance, determination, faith, and hope. I am grateful to have been invited to participate in the A.H.A.V.A. launch of the read-a-thon and hope to instill in the students the importance of reading, and the need to further their education.”
In 2010, less than half of all eligible 12th-graders even attempted the English matriculation exam to receive a high-school diploma, with less than half of all high-school students in Israel pursuing college degrees.
A.H.A.V.A. was founded in 2000 by Gaila Cohen Morrison, an experienced English teacher of 36 years committed to offering affordable English tuition to all Israeli children.
Morrison says, “Children can lift their reading level up considerably by intensely focusing on these skills. The read-a-thon, as well as our other work all year round, leads our students to feeling more and more comfortable in English. Now in our 13th year, we have seen students go on to study English literature and journalism in university, taking master’s degrees in education, linguistics, and communication.” She adds, “We are delighted and honored that Marion Lazan has agreed to be our special guest this year.” v