Thank you for visiting my webpage. My name is Elyse Bodenheimer and I live in Charlotte, North Carolina. I am twelve years old and am in the seventh grade.
My bat mitzvah is on January 24, 2009, and for my bat mitzvah project I have 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 decided to do this project because 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. I was taught how my family fought to survive because they were proud of 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 have been 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. 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. I learned 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 his being.
Once I get and read stories from other kids and teens, I will post them on the website and comment on them. My hope is that kids and teens find this as interesting as I do. It is important to share these stories with generations to come. If it were not for their bravery, a lot of us would not be here today. Hopefully everyone will check back on the website and read the stories of other families, and get some inspiration.
What I hope to get out of my bat mitzvah project is that I can encourage other Jewish children and teens to learn more about the holocaust and their own family’s history. I will also be researching more about my grandparents and we can share information with each other on ways to find more about the different journeys to the United States. This website is one way to do that.
A little bit about me.
I am a confident and studious kid who enjoys all sports, and especially likes to spend time with my friends. I am kind hearted and like to volunteer my time. This past Hanukah, instead of receiving a gift each of the eight nights, my brother and I donated to a different charity or person each night. Some of the nights we would go up to random people and hand them a home made holiday card and a gift card for them to enjoy. It was great! 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 and attend Yale.
I live in Charlotte, North Carolina, with my parents and my younger brother Ian. We have a golden retriever named Bronson.