Noemi Ban presentation at SWHS MLK assembly next Friday 10 am

Holocaust survivor Noémi Ban, an award-winning public speaker and ...

Noemi Ban will be speaking at the Martin Luther King Assembly at the South Whibdey High School on Friday, January 17.  Her one hour speech will begin at 10:00 a.m.

This is a public school event. If you wish to attend or to have your student attend (which you really should) arrive early and check in with the office to sign-in.

WIJC is NOT a sponsor of this event or connected with this event in any form or fashion. This post is a public service announcement only about an upcoming assembly of note in our public schools and is in no way affiliated with any information sent or presented by the district. 

For middle and high school students, this is a rare and valuable opportunity for the community to hear Noemi Ban, a Holocaust survivor, speak. Summarizing Noemi’s story and impact as an educator  is impossible, so copied below is her bio from Western Washington’s Woodring College of education:

Noémi Ban was 21 when the Nazis marched into Debrecen, Hungary on March 19, 1944. Her father was sent to a forced labor camp and she and her family (grandmother Nina, mother Juliska, sister Erzsebet and baby brother Gabor) were sent on a transport to Auschwitz, arriving on July 1, 1944. She was immediately separated from her family, where they became victims of the Nazi genocide.  Noémi spent nearly four months in Auschwitz before being picked by Dr. Joseph Mengele to be transferred to a sub-camp of Buchenwald to work at a bomb factory. She and eleven other women escaped during the forced march to Bergen Belsen in April of 1945. An American soldier from Patton’s army found them and informed them of their freedom. She arrived in Budapest in September of 1945 and reunited with her father, who also survived. Noémi married Earnest Ban in October of the same year and they settled in Budapest where Earnest was a teacher. A few years later, Noémi herself became a middle school teacher as well.

The Soviets came to power in Budapest in 1948.  Life continued under the Communist regime, but Noémi and her family feared the growing anti-Semitism in Hungary.  A few years later, Noémi, her husband, and two sons attempted to escape via train to Austria.  They were tricked, caught at the border and forced to return to Budapest. However, less than a month after the first attempt, she and her family tried again.  With a friend’s help, they hid in giant balls of yarn shipped in the back of a truck from Budapest.  They arrived in Sopron, Austria on December 29, 1956.

Noémi Shoënberger Ban is an award-winning teacher and public speaker, respected and beloved mother, grandmother and great-grandmother, and synagogue senior.  She is a native of Szeged, Hungary and has lived in Bellingham since 1982. Among other accolades, Ms. Ban has been awarded:

2013:  Honorary Doctorate of Humane Letters, Western Washington University
Graduation Speaker, Winter Commencement

2010: Daughters of the American Revolution Americanism Award

2003: Washington Education Association Human and Civil Rights Award in the category of International Peace and Understanding

2004: Excellence in Holocaust Education Award, Washington State Education Resource Center

2001: Honorary Doctorate, Gonzaga University

1997: Golden Apple Award

1981: Teacher of the Year in Missouri

For more, visit

Mazel tov and much gratitude to Mr. Kevin Lungren for not only notifying WIJC of this event but for arranging to bring Ms. Ban to the island for our students.

As a reminder, the Washington State Holocaust Education Resource Center has an upcoming teacher educaction training seminar on January 25th for which WIJC is willing to reimbure any local educator registration and ferry fees to attend. Come on, take us up on this offer, it includes continuing education credits, free curriculum, and lunch.

Funding for Whidbey Island Jewish Community was made possible, in part, by a grant from the Special Initiatives Fund of the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle.


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