Pledger Spotlight:

Carolyn Siegel
Encino, CA

Tell us about your organization, If You Heard What I Heard

When I was 8 years old, my grandfather, Moses Locker, a Holocaust survivor, told me: “Carolyn, it will be the job of your generation to make sure the world never forgets.” I was taken aback as a young child, but he then took my hand and said “no, you have to remember this happened, so it doesn’t happen again.”

Fast forward 30 years later, a synagogue near my home was graffitied with “F** the Jews.” My grandfather’s concerns of history repeating were becoming a reality, and I felt we were losing touch with the stories of the Holocaust, stories my generation is the last to hear firsthand.

I thought that if more people today heard what I heard my whole life, we could keep what happened to grandparents like mine, and their families, from happening again. I wanted to do something about it, so I started filming the stories of the grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, and If You Heard What I Heard (ifyouheardwhatiheard.com) launched in April 2021 with 15 interviews. We now have over 40 interviews with an extensive waitlist.

How do your testimonials connect with younger generations?

These interviews are set up to be conversational and casual, almost as if you’re grabbing a cup of coffee with a friend. They’re also filled with interesting facts and details, so someone listening is able to connect not only to the story, but on a human level.

The interviews are meant to be a less formal gateway to piquing interest into diving deeper into our shared history, whether it be hearing about the Siege of Leningrad or rarely heard stories of Jews escaping Greece during the Holocaust.

These interviews are important, not only so we can know and connect to our own history, but also to have a modern, relatable way to inspire empathy and compassion among non-Jewish allies.

Why did you take the Jewish Future Promise?

I am the grandchild of two Holocaust survivors, whose lives were upended for no other reason than being Jewish. I was raised with a sense of Tikkun Olam, and that Tikkun Olam starts at home. It’s been ingrained in me to give back and to do everything possible to ensure a strong Jewish future.

By not safeguarding and taking care of our own, I would be doing a disservice to my grandparents and my family that was lost in the Holocaust.

What does giving Jewishly mean to you?

Jewish people make up 2.4% of the U.S. population yet are the targets of about 60% of religious-based hate crimes. We’re a small community. If we don’t stick together and look out for our community, who will?

We need allies, but it has to start with us. A mentor of mine, Dr. Bruce Powell, summarized it best when he told me giving starts at home and that small actions cause a ripple effect that leads to a greater impact.

Bio

Carolyn Siegel is the founder of If You Heard What I Heard, has a background as a marketing executive, and is a proud Camp Alonim and BCI alumna, and her family are members of Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, CA. She currently resides in Encino, CA.