PA Cyber
PA Cyber CEO Brian Hayden, author Lee Goldman Kikel, and her son Jason stand side-by-side

Author Shares Father’s Holocaust Survival Story with PA Cyber Students

March 15, 2023

Author Lee Goldman Kikel shared with PA Cyber students and parents her father’s story of how he endured five years in the Jewish ghetto and concentration camps before coming to the United States to begin a new life. On Tuesday, students in grades 7–12 listened to Goldman Kikel with great interest as they connected the presentation with what they are learning in English and history classes.

“It’s incredibly important that we remember what survivors have gone through,” said high school history teacher Julia Martin. “Their stories need to be shared so we have a constant reminder of something that should never happen again.”

Author Lee Goldman Kikel poses with three PA Cyber students
From left to right: Nicholas Saad, Piper Zawitz, Lee Goldman Kikel, and Madison Siget

Goldman Kikel’s father, Melvin Goldman, recorded his memories on cassette tapes in the late 1970s, and in them he had stated he wanted his story to be preserved in a book. Goldman Kikel honored his request by writing the book “Perseverance: One Holocaust Survivor’s Journey from Poland to America,” which was published in 2019. The book has been adapted into a play that will be performed April 15–16 at New Hazlett Theater Center for Performing Arts in Pittsburgh. The performance will be available for PA Cyber students to watch via live stream.

Melvin Goldman was 21 years old when Allied Forces liberated the concentration camps in 1945. He weighed 85 pounds and could not walk. After recovering in Germany, a kind stranger sponsored his move to the United States. He reunited with his brother in Pittsburgh, where he ultimately settled down.

When Melvin Goldman moved to the United States, he did not speak English and did not have any money. Nonetheless, he went on to become a successful business owner and a family man. As a result of living in the ghetto and concentration camps, he contended with health problems and nightmares until he passed away in 1996.

“He was always positive, upbeat, and encouraging to others,” she said of her father. “…He was tolerant and accepting of others. If he can live like that, others can too.”

“My family has lost over 100 people, and I remember them every day,” she said.

Parent Alyson Zawitz said her daughter Piper was reading “The Diary of Anne Frank” for English class, and she was happy to expand Piper’s understanding by attending the presentation. “Especially since my husband’s family is Jewish, it’s so important that our kids know about the Holocaust.”

Student Madison Siget said, “We need to learn history that is told by people who went through things and not through history books. You’re not going to get someone’s personal intel about what they went through and how they survived in a textbook.”

A Cyber CEO Brian Hayden, author Lee Goldman Kikel, and her son Jason stand side-by-side
From left to right: PA Cyber CEO Brian Hayden, author Lee Goldman Kikel, and her son Jason

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About PA Cyber

Serving students in kindergarten through 12th grade, the Pennsylvania Cyber Charter School (PA Cyber) is one of the largest, most experienced, and most successful online public schools in the nation. PA Cyber's online learning environments, personalized instruction methods, and choices of curricula connect Pennsylvania students and their families with state-certified and highly qualified teachers and rich academic content that is aligned with state standards. Founded in 2000, PA Cyber is headquartered in Midland (Beaver County) and maintains a network of support offices throughout the state. As a public school, PA Cyber is open for enrollment by any school-age child residing in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and does not charge tuition to students or families.