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Gratz Stories

Daniel Cohen
  • Alumnus
  • Board Member
  • Cont. Ed. Student
  • Donor

Dan Cohen took his first course at Gratz in 1932. He’s been going to Gratz ever since. If Gratz College needed a poster child for lifelong Jewish learning, Dan Cohen would fit the bill.

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Heidi Omlor
  • Alumnus
  • Student

Heidi Omlor can trace her interest in Holocaust studies to elementary school. She was 12 when an English teacher assigned her class to read Corrie ten Boom’s autobiographical book The Hiding Place.

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Michael Schatz
  • Alumnus

I attended Gratz and graduated three different times, for high school, for a Masters, and for a doctorate in Jewish Education. I also worked in the high school and college for many years...

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Dr. Ruth Sandberg
  • Faculty

For a long time, I have been fascinated by a famous statement in the Talmud: “Rabbi said: Much Torah have I learned from my teachers; and even more have I learned from my colleagues; but most of all have I learned from my students.”

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Gratz Israel Teen Tour Remembers

I finished my lecture on behalf of Gratz College at a Philadelphia Northeast synagogue, when a man who looked to be in his early fifties approached me at the podium. “I went with you to Israel with the Gratz Israel Teen Tour some thirty plus years ago”, he said, “and I still remember that Holocaust tour guide”. I was stunned. I looked at him. I too remembered that tour-guide.

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  • Alumnus

Hillel Kolodner, of Haifa, Israel, graduated from Gratz High School in 1973. He earned a Ph.D. in computer science from MIT, and is a senior researcher at IBM Research in Haifa. He is married and has two sons. About his Gratz education, he said, “I had a large passive Hebrew vocabulary when I came to live in Israel in 1976. Soon after, I was speaking fluently and reading the Hebrew paper, and, somewhat later, Hebrew literature.”

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Ivayla Ivanova
  • Student

I am a Bulgarian-American from Salt Lake City, Utah. Although my undergraduate background from Brown University is in public policy, psychology, and education studies, and my first graduate degree was in real estate development.

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Jacob Sztokman
  • Alumnus

Jacob Sztokman manages his career from two continents and three time zones. The 49-year-old father of four lives in Modiin, Israel, but runs a U.S.-based nonprofit organization that cares for women and children in the slums of India.

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Jennifer Boyer-Switala
  • Alumnus
  • Student

Jennifer Boyer-Switala is an outstanding student in the Ph.D. program in Holocaust and Genocide Studies. In 2015, Jennifer graduated from Gratz College with high honors and was class valedictorian, earning her master’s degree in Holocaust and Genocide Studies.

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  • Student

My journey to becoming a teacher began when after graduating, I pursued TESOL teaching because I felt it would be a way into teaching that would add many facets to my character.

Read More about Jonny Hudson
  • Alumnus

Linda Ivker, of Bay Harbor Island, Florida, graduated from Gratz High School in 1969. A retired RN, she said this of her experience at Gratz: “I loved learning history and culture. I loved my Yiddish class. I retain a lifelong interest in Yiddish.”

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Talli Dippold
  • Alumnus

Talli Dippold, Associate Director of the Stan Greenspon Center for Peace and Social Justice at Queens University of Charlotte, was just elected to the board of directors of the Association of Holocaust Organizations (AHO) – an International Network for the Advancement of Holocaust Education, Remembrance, & Research. 

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Zachary Schaffer
  • Alumnus

Zachary Schaffer’s dream job was working with a political campaign. Originally from the Philadelphia area, Schaffer earned a bachelor’s degree in rhetoric and political science from the University of Pittsburgh. He graduated early in December 2015, just as the 2016 presidential election was heating up.

Read More about Zachary Schaffer