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Speaker Profiles

The following members of the Birmingham Holocaust Education Center Speakers Bureau are available to speak to schools or community groups.

To request a speaker, please refer to the Speakers Bureau Guidelines.

(Alphabetical Listing)

Sherry Blanton, Guardian of Remembrance
Sherry is a member of Temple Beth El in Anniston, AL.  Among the members of the congregation were sixteen Holocaust survivors, all with unique stories about their life under the Nazi regime.  All settled in Anniston, finding safety and security in the Deep South.  After extensive research and publication of these stories, Sherry would like to share the lives of these amazing survivors with schools and community groups in the Anniston area.

Max Herzel
Max HerzelMax was born in Antwerp, Belgium in 1930.  When the Germans invaded ten years later, the family fled, taking refuge in a series of internment camps in Southern France. When his father and brother were sent to a work camp, young Max was sent to a series of orphanages and ultimately was placed on a remote farm in the French Alps, posing as a Catholic orphan.  Max's father did not survive, but he was reunited with his brother and mother after the war.  Max immigrated to the U.S. in 1948.

Riva Schuster Hirsch
Riva was seven-years-old in 1941 when the Germans occupied her village of Novaseletz, Romania.  The family fled to their grandparents' home nearby but were captured.  They were put on a train destined for Moghilev.  Riva was thrown from the train, ultimately arriving at a camp in Luchinetz. Here, she was rescued by partisans and taken to a Catholic convent where for two years she lived in a 6-foot bunker, never seeing the light of day. In 1945, Riva was liberated. She immigrated to Israel in 1948, met her future husband, and in 1962, immigrated to the U.S.

Esther Gerson Levy, Guardian of Remembrance
Esther LevyEsther tells the story of her mother, Tobi Kamarnik Gerson, who lived in the small Polish town of Szczercow.  Tobi was fourteen years old when the war broke out and shortly thereafter was sent to the Lodz Ghetto.  She spent time in Auschwitz and Ravensbrück, where she was rescued by the Swedish Red Cross.

Denise Lewis, Guardian of Remembrance
Denise LewisDenise's father, Roger Nathan Blum was born in Brumath, France in 1920.  While Roger left France at the age of 19 to visit a cousin in the U.S., his parents, sister, and cousin were captured by the Nazis and taken to Struthof.  Roger, in the meantime, was drafted by the U.S. Army and sent to fight in France, where he was able to visit his family.


Robert (Bob) May
Bob MayBob was born in Camberg, Germany shortly before Hitler came to power.  Once the Nazis took control of the government, life changed drastically.  He was forced to leave school and experienced Kristallnacht first-hand.  Because of the Kindertransport, Bob was able to immigrate to England to continue his schooling and ultimately received passage to the U.S.

Max Steinmetz
Max SteinmetzMax was born in Tārgu-Lapus, Romania. Between 1942 and 1945 he was held in German captivity in at least five ghettos or camps. His liberation by American forces in 1945 was only the first part of his journey, which was followed by a six-year effort to come to the U.S.