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Vladka Meed 1921-2012


Vladka Meed in 1973 at the Warsaw Ghetto Exhibit she put together. Photo: Jack Manning / The New York Times

(Friday, November 23, 2012) - It is with great sorrow that we learned late Wednesday of the death of Vladka Meed, a Vice President of the Jewish Labor Committee and member of our Executive Committee. Obituary articles have appeared in The Washington Post and The Jewish Daily Forward; more will follow.

Vladka's life and the JLC became entwined during the Holocaust years, when, as a member of the Jewish Labor Bund, she was an activist in the anti-Nazi underground in Warsaw, and played a heroic role in the Warsaw Ghetto resistance, culminating in the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising. Soon after the war, coming to the U.S. with the assistance of the JLC, she went across the country on speaking tours, sharing her eyewitness account in communities large and small. A series of her articles in the Yiddish-language Jewish Daily Forward reached an even larger audience. Her book ON BOTH SIDES OF THE WALL, based on those articles, was first published in Yiddish in 1948, then translated and published in English and many other languages, including Japanese, German and Polish, thus reaching an international audience. In the mid-1970s, she coordinated the production of a filmstrip on the Warsaw Ghetto and the Uprising, narrated by Theodore Bikel and distributed by the Jewish Labor Committee. The filmstrip, later issued on videocassette, was seen by students and others in a variety of educational settings.

A decade later, Vladka, together with representatives of the Jewish Labor Committee and New York's United Federation of Teachers, began the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Teachers Program, which soon became a cooperative program of the American Federation of Teachers, the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, the JLC's Educators Chapter, as well as the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Through her tireless work as founder of and for many years the Director of this program, nearly a thousand educators teaching in communities across the U.S. received intensive training on Holocaust pedagogy, and heard testimony from survivors, in Israel, Poland, and other countries. The alumni of "Vladka's Program" share what they have learned not only with students, but also with fellow educators and community members. They are preserving and transmitting Vladka's legacy to future generations, not simply the names of those who suffered and perished in the Shoah, but the context of their lives, communities, and cultures. In addition to having a steadfast commitment to education and commemoration,

Vladka was an ardent supporter of Yiddish language and culture, and was active in the Jewish Labor Committee's work in this area for many years. She was also our representative to a number of organizations, notably the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany.

A memorial service in New York to celebrate Vladka's life will be held in the near future. For further information, contact our office.

You can leave a memorial message here.