Thank you for visiting my webpage. My name is Elyse Bodenheimer and I am from Charlotte, North Carolina.
My bat mitzvah was on January 24, 2009, and for my bat mitzvah project I created this website for the grandchildren of holocaust survivors to share their grandparent’s stories on their journeys and survival during the holocaust to a safer place.
I wanted kids to have a place to document the journeys and experiences their family had to go through. I hope to inspire others who read these courageous stories. Growing up, I was taught how my family survived and maintained their Jewish identity, and hearing about my own family’s history has made me feel proud to be a Jew. I am hoping that this website will keep those memories alive!
I was blessed with wonderful grandparents. Two of them, my dad’s parents, escaped Germany during the rise of Hitler and the Nazis. I never knew my grandmother, Ellen Schleicher Bodenheimer, because she died before I was born. My grandfather, Bert Arno Bodenheimer, passed away on March 8th, 2008. He truly inspired me to be proud of my Jewish heritage.
I once spent an afternoon interviewing my Grandpa Bert and re-living his travels from the age of 10, learning what it was like to live as a Jewish child under the rule of the Nazis. There came a time when he could no longer go to school in Germany. His family lived on the Swiss border, and his family was able to arrange for him and his sister to go to school there. He would ride his bike to school in Switzerland, hiding documents and money (also the deed to the house in Germany) and sneaking them across the border, to give to a teacher in Switzerland to hold for the Bodenheimer family. Every day the police would flag him over the border, but on the ride home, they would stop him, search his belongings, and even take the tire off of his bicycle to make sure he wasn’t smuggling items into Germany. They never thought he would smuggle items OUT of Germany! It was very dangerous to do this for his family, but my grandfather was a very determined, smart, and brave person. His Jewish identity was one of the most important aspects of who he was.
It is important to preserve memories such as these for generations to come. If it were not for the bravery of the holocaust generation, a lot of us would not be here today. We need to encourage other Jewish children and teens to learn more about the holocaust and their own family’s history, and preserve these memories while the survivors are still living.
A little bit about me.
I will graduate from Providence High School in June 2014 and will attend the University of South Carolina in Columbia in the Fall of 2014. I like to volunteer my time to make the world a better place. I am a founding member of the Shalom Park Freedom School Teen Board, and we helped establish the first Freedom School at Shalom Park two years ago. During the summer, I volunteer for several weeks working with these amazing kids.
I have participated in the “A Book by Me” project (www.abookbyme.com) and wrote a story about my grandfather called “The Secret Journey”. https://www.facebook.com/#!/
My grandmother Ellen died before I was born and my parents named me after her. From the stories of her childhood and as an adult, she lived a life that made me want to be just like her – kind, generous, smart, and a good person. She was one of the first women to go to Yale Law School and my dream is to follow in her footsteps, become a lawyer, and eventually become a District Attorney. For the past three summers, I have worked for District Court Judge Donnie Hoover.