A Passion for Educating Others About Holocaust Leads to Legacy Gift
A docent for 15 years and Chair of Docent Training for Holocaust Museum Houston, Judy Schnitzer Myers walks her talk and has turned her history into a passion to teach and educate others.
The daughter of Ruth and George Schnitzer, and niece of Otto Schlamme, who were all involved in HMH's founding, Judy seemed destined for the work she is doing.
"My family originally came from Wurzburg, Germany," she explains. "My mother, whose grandfather and great-aunt died in concentration camps, came to the U.S. in 1936, at age 14, where she lived with a foster family in Rochester, New York. My uncle and their parents escaped from Germany the day before Kristallnacht. The Seligman/Cohen family provided the affidavit [that] enabled them to escape, and all four were reunited in Houston in 1938.
"My mother, who was just 16 when she came to Houston, turned 95 in April. She met my father, George, a native Houstonian, in the Beth Israel young adult group, and they were married by Rabbi Robert Kahn. Rabbi Kahn also married my late husband Jim and me, and one of my sons. My parents were founding members of Congregation Emanu El, and I am still an active member."
Judy earned her A.B. in sociology from Washington University in St. Louis and her M.S. in Public Health from the U.T. School of Public Health. For many years, she was a social worker at the Cerebral Palsy Center, and in a change of direction, "with kids in college," passed the strict licensing required to become a certified financial planner. She continued for many years in this field, working for a large corporation and ultimately, as an independent advisor.
Judy has deep roots in Houston, but her sons Jeffrey and Jeremy, and their families, keep her flying to Southern California on a regular basis. "Even though they live across the country, they know how important the history of their grandparents and great-grandparents is, and they have ‘caught it.' They have taken the baton and continue the legacy we have begun with their wives and children. I believe if our families see what we do, it teaches them valuable lessons, by example. My passion for the messages of the Holocaust now matters to them as much as it does me."
Judy takes pride in her family, her docent work and her involvement on the museum's Legacy Committee. She has made arrangements for a planned gift to HMH upon her passing and hopes to serve as another sort of example here as well. She is most excited about the friends she has made at HMH and the diversity among the newest docents.
"In a recent class of 12, half are Jewish and the rest are not, and they are all age ranges. The stories of hatred, bigotry, apathy, cruelty and greed that came from the Holocaust are not just about Jews; they are about humanity as a whole. By seeing the experience through the eyes of all ethnicities and faiths, we will tell a valuable universal message," Judy says.
"As docents, we aspire to teach, to inspire critical thinking and instill hope. It is an exciting time to be working with and for HMH, as it expands its facility and reaches more and more people, of every generation. This is what leaving a legacy is all about."
Leave Your Legacy of Hope
You can follow in Judy's footsteps and ensure that HMH's work to inspire critical thinking and instill hope endures for years to come. Contact Stephanie Dugan, CAP® at firstname.lastname@example.org or 713-527-1629 to learn more.