Storytelling is an essential component of cultural evolution. Without these vehicles for sharing ancestral wisdom and experiences, much of our history would have been forgotten or, worse, repeat itself. The founder of nonprofit If You Heard What I Heard understood the urgency and need for certain stories to be heard, stories that must be preserved and shared.
If you heard what I heard, you would never forget
After a Los Angeles synagogue was attacked in May 2020, Carolyn Siegel felt called to action. She believed that if more people understood the horrors of the Holocaust and were able to hear the real stories of survivors—narratives detailing fear and grief, perseverance and strength, and everything in between—they could foster empathy and understanding and ultimately quell the rise of antisemitic attacks.
Witnessing out loud
As the grandchild of Holocaust survivors, Carolyn confronted the somber realization that her generation would be the last to hear their grandparents’ stories firsthand. She realized she was not alone in bearing witness to narratives that, if shared in a new and relevant way, had the potential to reduce and prevent antisemitism through educating the next generation about the Holocaust.
“As there are fewer Holocaust survivors alive each year to share the firsthand accounts of the atrocities of the Holocaust, and as we see a sharp rise in antisemitism, keeping these stories alive is critical, now more than ever. By sharing the stories of grandchildren of Holocaust survivors—the last generation to ever hear these stories firsthand over the course of decades—we can make these stories more relatable for today and keep them in our present memory instead of allowing them to fall into our distant memory.” — Carolyn Siegel, Founder
Imperative, more than inspiration, drove the creation of this digital platform aimed at curbing antisemitism, teaching tolerance, and making sure that the world will #NeverForget what took place.
Creating a storytelling space
Amplifying these important messages involves more than a couple of clicks. Doing justice to the stories required careful planning and execution, and Nixon Peabody’s team assisted from the start. Behind the scenes, formulating the foundation’s business structure and navigating the board enabled the idea to come to fruition and operate as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.
As If You Heard What I Heard got off the ground, the Nixon Peabody team continued to assist with handling the organization’s IP protection, event coordination, drafting appearance and participation releases for storytellers, and ensuring that the stories were captured and sharable. This thorough approach ensures that the organization’s work will have the broadest possible reach, garner the greatest impact from each dollar donated, and give each shared voice the space to rise from whisper to legacy.
Making sure the world will #NeverForget
Hearing the messages that these grandchildren are sharing is more important than ever, especially after the events that began in Israel on October 7, 2023. At the same time, anti-Jewish hate crime incidents in the United States have reached levels not seen in three decades. If You Heard What I Heard remains dedicated and optimistic that its efforts to chronicle real-life accounts of Holocaust survivors’ harrowing journeys, devastating loss, and inspiring resilience will illustrate the importance of empathy, tolerance, and unity for generations to come.