Rachael most notably presents her long-term project, Follow My Footprints, to groups of all ages. She primarily speaks about topics such as displacement, grief, and resilience through a historical, restorative and personal lens.
Speaking Engagements Have Included :
Gratz College, Tuzman Holocaust Teach-in (PA), Moore College of Art (PA), Wheelock College (MA), Kutz Camp (NY), Hadassah (MA, PA), Beth Chaim Reform Congregation (PA), Temple Israel of Boston (MA), Temple Beth Zion (MA), Congregation Dorshei Tzedek (MA), Temple Isaiah of Lexington (MA), Temple Sinai of Brookline (MA)
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All lectures, presentations and classes are adjusted for the specific audience. The material can be adapted for school-aged children, high school and university classes, and adult education. Dialogue programs and workshops are also available.
To request a speaking engagement or inquire about speaking fees, please contact : firstname.lastname@example.org
Follow My Footprints
Topics : World War II, Displacement, Unsung heroes, The Rescue of the Danish Jews, Refugee Crisis (past and present), Family History
For teen and young adult classes, workshops can be molded to aid students in better understanding the refugee crisis and to build empathy for immigrants assimilating into present-day America. Contemporary chapters of this work paired with historical context provide a necessary opportunity to have challenging conversation in a safe space.
For adult education, Rachael often focuses on the personal journey she took following in her grandmother’s footprints, the strong friendships she has formed with the descendants of those who aided in her grandmother's survival and the lessons of how trauma and resilience are passed down from generation to generation.
The project addresses the fragility of democracy and highlights ordinary people who have taken extraordinary risk in times of uncertainty; it aims to inspire a consciousness of how our own narratives are interwoven with those of our neighbors.
Now a Widow, Still a Wife
Topics : Grief, Resilience, Young Widowhood
On September 29, 2016, my husband suddenly collapsed and died on our bedroom floor. He was 28 years young and we were two weeks shy of our first wedding anniversary. On that Thursday morning, I woke up in his arms, feeling secure in our Boston apartment. I went to bed a 27-year old widow in my parent’s basement.
I wasn't angry after Sergiusz (pronounced in America as Sergio) passed away, at least not at the world. He died far too young of natural causes, a fact I have accepted. But, I was angry that no one could point me to a mirror. No one could introduce me to another young woman who could tell me from her own experience that I would be okay. As a society we are uncomfortable speaking about death and grief which often results in a feeling of alienation for those who are grieving. This is not okay. When we lose our person, we shouldn't also lose our identity and our stories. For young people it is especially difficult as disbelief and discomfort often clouds the hard conversations. As I settle into the identity of widow, I watch my peers settle into their life as a wife.
About six months after losing my husband, I put a call into a couple grief groups online asking if there would be any interest in being a part of a portrait series about young widowhood. In less than 48 hours, around 100 women wrote to me eager to be a part of this project; most were under the age of 40. Since then, I have corresponded with over 150 young women who have shared a piece of their story with me. I bring the narratives of our love lost and our life gained to communities to encourage dialogue and reflection about love, death and grief. Our stories are as tragic as they are beautiful.
2017 Fall Lectures & Classes
Speech : Temple Sinai (MA) / Resilience In Widowhood
Lecture : Beth Chaim Reform Congregation (PA) / Follow My Footprints Presentation
Lecture : Moore College of Art (PA) / Follow My Footprints Presentation
Class : Congregation Dorshei Tzedek (MA) : How Did We Get Here? The 20th Century Jewish Experience (Follow My Footprints)
Class : Temple Israel of Boston (MA) : When Our Grandparents Were Grandchildren (Follow My Footprints)
Class : Temple Sinai (MA) : Understanding the Refugee Crisis (Follow My Footprints)
Class : Temple Isaiah (MA) : Heroes & Heroines of the Holocaust (Follow My Footprints)
Class : Temple Isaiah (MA) : Photography : A Lens Into Our Past & Present