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April 25, 2003 - Image 53

Resource type:
The Detroit Jewish News, 2003-04-25

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is pleased to announce
A,p arhments the winners of our 2003
Eight Over Eighty Event!


Leonard P.


Roth Drapkin


Irene Butter greets the Dalai Lama, who received the Raoul Wallenberg award at
U-M in 1994.

ing room that overlooks Geddes Lake.
Though her mother was reticent,
Pam says, "the Holocaust was in my
genes." As a child, she remembers ask-
ing her grandmother (Irene's mother)
what happened to her husband — the
grandfather she never met.
Her grandmother simply replied
that she lost him.
Mother and daughter hold back
tears as Pam retells the story.
"I imagined my grandparents hold-
ing hands while crossing the street,
and she lost him. I've been trying to
find my grandfather ever since," she
says. "Trying to learn about his life,
their lives [those in the Holocaust];
I'm still on that journey."
U-M Director of Dutch Studies Ton
Broos, a friend of the Butters and the
creator of U-M's course on Anne
Frank, remembers when Butter first
spoke to his class eight years ago.
"She wasn't as outspoken about her
experiences at first," he says. "I see a
development since she's been talking
to people. She's more comfortable
with herself."
He adds that Butter teaches more
than the Holocaust. She demonstrates
how positive one can be about life
even after the extreme adversity she
"She's inspiring," Broos says. "She's
also come to terms with the
Holocaust, especially after her visits to
Germany with her children and grand-

Triumph And Suffering

Butter's first visit back to the camps
with her son, brother and nephew was
a triumphant experience, a turning

point, she says. She had survived and
had children and grandchildren. Butter
says that she began to transform herself
from being a victim to being a survivor.
"A victim is weak and powerless;
oppressors have triumphed over you,"
she believes. "Whereas, when you
think of yourself as a survivor, you've
conquered that strength; you can sur-
mount other challenges because noth-
ing will ever be quite as hard as what
you've already experienced."
There was yet another step in her
healing process that would take several
more years. Her distaste of Germans,
their language and anything German,
still filled her.
Her daughter remembers when she
was young, her grandmother would
speak German to Irene — but Irene,
unable to bear the language, refused to -
speak German, and answered in English.
But to learn how to forgive took
both a meeting with the Tibetan spiri-
tual leader, the Dalai Lama, and a
German high school teacher she met
just last year.
Butter became active in the U-M
Raoul Wallenberg project that honors
the Swedish U-M alumni who saved
more than 100,000 Jews — and shows
how one person's life can make a differ-
ence. In 1984, Butter spearheaded the
fund-raising for the Wallenberg endow-
ment that eventually honored people
such as Elie Wiesel; Miep Gies, who
protected Anne Frank's family; and the
Dalai Lama, who all came to he uni-
versity to speak as part of the award.
Butter had a meeting with the Dalai
Lama when he accepted his award in

ODYSSEY on page 56 .

Dunsky Weiss



VottigtstA„)k *14*144.*I

Celebrating Our Heroes

Eight Over Eighty is a yearly event recognizing distinguished senior
adults who have dedicated themselves. their time, talents... their
lives to our community. Tickets are $65.00 for brunch prepared by
Unique Restaurant Corporation. Your tax deductible gift goes
directly to provide food for those Jewish Apartments & Services
older adults with low incomes.

• Sunday, May 4, 2003 • 11


brunch • Noon induction ceremony

• Nonna Jean and Edward Meer Jewish Apartments
- .6760 West Maple Road, West Bloomfield

• For more information, please call (248) 592-1101

Ce d4ES





70845 0


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