An unusual opportunity to learn about history up close came with a class decision to have middle school kids reunite friends separated by the Holocaust.

Middle School Kids Reunite Friends Separated By the HolocaustA group of 13 and 14 year olds at Madison Junior High in Naperville, Illinois worked together to to create a random act of kindness four years ago, and now their story is told in a book which will soon be released.

“Finding My Twin; How an Eighth Grade Class Reunited Two Holocaust Refugees” is a soon to be released book by Fern Schumer Chapman about the true experience of her mother’s reunion with a fellow Holocaust refugee brought about by the efforts of Cathleen O’Boyle’s social studies class. “Is It Night or Day?” is a popular novel written by Chapman which O’Boyle’s students read. It is the story of Chapman’s mother, Edith Westerfeld Schumer, and her experience growing up in Nazi Germany as a Jewish girl.

Chapman did a presentation at the school about the novel, and told the class that her mother came to the United States as part of “The One Thousand Project,” an effort by a group of Jewish, Quaker and Lutheran good Samaritans to rescue one thousand children. She came aboard a cruise ship called the “Deutschland” and met another little girl her age, Gerda Katz.  That’s when O’Boyle’s students put their research skills to work, and decided to try and locate Gerda Katz and reunite her with Edith Schumer.

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