By Joyce DeWallace, Contributing Writer
Westborough – Resident Rena Finder told her early life story about what it was like to survive the Nazi invasion of Poland to a large group at Westborough High School last month.
She survived the atrocities of imprisonment in Auschwitz during the Holocaust thanks to the actions of Oskar Schindler and his famous list. Finder and her mother were saved from the concentration camp, where she was sent at age 13, to work in one of Schindler's factories.
The event was sponsored by the Westborough Friends of Facing History and Ourselves Foundation (FHAO), who are, according to its mission, dedicated to combatting bigotry, misinformation, indifference and prejudice. The group coined the word “upstander” to describe “a person who takes action, particularly when the easiest or most acceptable course is to do nothing.”
“Our goal is to encourage “upstanders” rather than “bystanders,”” Sondra Bloch, the group's president, explained in an earlier interview.
“The event exceeded any expectations I could have imagined,” Bloch said after the presentation. “The community really came out and embraced the idea of being an “upstander.””
Bloch said her phone and email have been flooded with words of thanks and comments from people who were amazed that Finder was able to speak for so long.
“She was so articulate and able to tie it all together. Her Q&A session was also remarkable,” she said. “Really powerful.”
Westborough students who have taken the “Facing History and Ourselves” course at the high school also shared their stories of how they have used what they have learned in class to stand up to real life situations of intolerance and cruelty.
The popular course teaches ways to fight racism, prejudice and apathy by reviewing past historical events.
To learn more, go to www.westborough-facinghistory.com.