HOUSTON, TX (July 21, 2011) – A new educational fellowship established at Holocaust Museum Houston to honor a Houston-area survivor of the Holocaust will allow area educators an opportunity to study the history and ramifications of that genocide with scholars from around the world for years to come.
Granddaughter Maren Altman, front, and teacher Katie Ransdell posed with Stefi Altman, Regina Rogers and grandson Nicholas Altman after announcement of the Stefi Altman Fellowship at Holocaust Museum Houston.
Regina Rogers, a former member of Holocaust Museum Houston’s advisory board and long-time supporter, announced the creation of the new fellowship honoring survivor Stefi Altman at the Museum’s recent Max M. Kaplan Summer Institute for Educators.
Rogers, a close friend of Altman’s since 1963, presented this year’s Stefi Altman Fellowship to Katie Ransdell, a world history teacher at Alief Hastings High School, at an announcement ceremony on the final day of the Museum’s 2011 institute.
The institute is an intensive Holocaust education experience that takes place over four days and includes opportunities to study with renowned scholars from around the world.
The fellowship is part of a Fund for Educators in Honor of Stefi Altman that will support the institute and provide tuition reimbursement for one teacher to attend each year, as well as bring one class to the Museum for a tour focusing on Altman’s experience during the Holocaust. The Museum also will host a one-day annual workshop in Altman’s honor.
“I am so thankful to God and to this Museum for allowing me to do this,” Rogers said. “Stefi’s story will live on because of this.”
Rogers described Altman as a second mother whose warmth and love has impacted her life and the lives of many others in the Houston region.
Altman was born in Lublin, Poland in 1926. The third of four children, she was just 13 years old when the Germans conquered her homeland in September 1939. She spent time in the concentration camps Jastkov, Treblinka and Majdanek before reaching Dorohucza, a Polish labor camp.
She discovered that her little sister, Kayla, had been sent to the same concentration camp at the end of 1943. But Altman’s sister was murdered, and soon after the older sister escaped from the camp. She doubtlessly would have died had she stayed in the camp, where the Germans murdered 20,000 inmates at Dorohucza and two neighboring camps soon after she left in one of the deadliest single massacres of the Holocaust. Altman was hidden by a sympathetic farmer until being liberated by the Russians, when she learned that her family — 35 members in all — were murdered in the Holocaust.
She met and married Hershel Altman, also a survivor, in Poland in 1946. Their son, Moses David (Mickey) was born the following year. The family moved to Houston in 1949, but her husband died in 1963, the same year that Altman met Julie and Ben Rogers and their daughter, Regina, who became long-time friends and companions.
“Regina, you are the daughter I never had, and I love you,” Altman said during the ceremony.
Ransdell, who has attended two summer institutes, said the fellowship will impact her teaching and her students for years to come. “My kids will have lots of opportunities because of this fellowship. To be able to come to the Museum and to meet and talk with a survivor just changes lives,” she said.
The institute is an educator training program supported by a grant from the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, Inc.; the Max M. Kaplan Teacher Education Fund; the Chevra Kadisha Holocaust Studies Scholarship Fund; the Lea K. Weems Memorial Scholarship Fund; the Fund for Educators in Honor of Stefi Altman; and United Airlines, the official airline of Holocaust Museum Houston.
Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.
Holocaust Museum Houston is free and open to the public and is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004. For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.