Holocaust Survivor Helps 11,000 Students; Finds Help Herself

Photography provided by Jewish Federation


A handmade photo-collage propped on the couch, made by her granddaughter, announces that Stephanie Marks has just turned 90. 

 Marks is a vibrant, engaging personality at 90. She greets visitors in slightly accented English, seated in a power wheelchair, gently mocking her lack of hostessing ability since she cannot reach the plates for lunch. Her new apartment is not yet configured to be accessible for her.

“I just recently found out that I’ll just never walk unassisted again,” says  Marks. That’s why she’s had to move here from her old home, and that’s why she needs help – though she is used to being the one who helps.

A Holocaust survivor,  Marks has helped over 11,000 students learn about the Holocaust through The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education (CHHE). Its executive director, Sarah Weiss, says, “Stephanie’s impact on the students she speaks to is extraordinary.” 

Stephanie Marks was born in Konin, Poland, and at five moved to Belgium. “We picked 1939 for our last visit (to Poland), so we got caught. We were in hiding, we were running.” They covered 7,000 miles, and finally some distant relatives in Cincinnati helped them come here.

 Marks has been a member of the CHHE Speakers Bureau since 2000. She still speaks to students, though she needs to be driven to her talks. She is clear: “It has been a great experience.”

However, now Marks has pressing needs. Her two children live out of town. The Jewish Family Service Center for Holocaust Survivors has linked her to medical services, physical therapy, and additional help for her and her family.  Marks says, grinning, about her care manager, “(Gail Ziegler) packed me up and got me to Cedar Village. And she knew names of doctors and she encouraged me to do physical therapy.” 

It is an ongoing process. “Right now it’s tough, but Stephanie is tough,” says Ms. Ziegler, MSW, LISW-S, and Senior Manager at the Center for Holocaust Survivors.

 Marks is well taken care of these days, even as she learns to navigate the new apartment on wheels. She says, “Whenever I needed anything, all I had to do was pick up the phone – and call Gail. And it was there for me.”

The Center for Holocaust & Humanity Education, Jewish Family Service, and Cedar Village are funded in part through the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati. 

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