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Holocaust survivor tells Howell students “Don’t be a bystander”

On Friday, Jan. 20, Howell High School and Innovation Academy students had the opportunity to learn from Irene Miller, a Holocaust survivor.

During her visit to the school, Miller shared her story of survival, overcoming obstacles, and preserving to achieve success. Miller took students on a journey through her life, sharing the story of fleeing Poland, her time in a Siberian labor camp, years spent in orphanages, and how she went on to become a teacher, healthcare executive, and author. 

“Having Mrs. Miller visit our school provided our students with an incredible learning experience. It is one thing to read about the Holocaust and its impact in a textbook. It is a completely different experience and much more powerful one, to hear about the Holocaust from someone who survived that time in history,” said Jason Schrock, Howell High School principal. “Mrs. Miller not only shared her story of survival, but she also shared lessons on overcoming adversity and promoting tolerance and understanding of others.”

When asked by a student if she could give everybody one piece of advice, what would it be, Miller replied, “Don’t be bystanders, be a part of your community. And what I say is Tikkun Olam, it means improving the world. You each have the responsibility to be part of the world that you try to make better in whatever small way you can, starting with your school, your community, your city. Don’t be bystanders. Take part in positive actions.”

Miller is a retired healthcare executive who was the one-time director of mental health for Livingston County.

In retirement, she is a docent and speaker for the Detroit Institute of Arts, a courts mediator, and serves on the Board of Directors of the American Jewish Committee, the oldest civil rights organization in the US.

Since the University of Michigan-Dearborn published her book, “Into No Man’s Land: A Historical Memoir,” in November of 2012, Miller has been in demand as a speaker at many large events in the United States and Canada. 

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