September 2008 Ethical Hero – Judith Meisel

Published: September 13, 2008

By Jim Lichtman
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Judith MeiselJudith Meisel is a Holocaust survivor of the Kovno Ghetto in Lithuania and the Stutthof Concentration Camp in Poland. Her experiences during and after World War II inspired a life-long crusade against bigotry and racism.  After witnessing the race riots of 1963, Judy has pursued and persevered in a campaign to speak out against racism and the need for greater tolerance in her community and around the country.

In my book, “What Do You Stand For?” Judy shares a personal story that demonstrates her commitment to human rights.

“I was having dinner, listening to the news. After an African-American family by the name of Baker moved into an all white neighborhood called Folcroft, a mob of people turned out taunting them, screaming, yelling at them, throwing all kinds of debris. And I was devastated because here I was in Philadelphia, in the city of brotherly love and it was like Kristallnacht (night of broken glass) in 1938, November 9th when the world sat and looked at what was happening in Germany and nobody did anything about it!

“So, I baked some cookies and I went to the Bakers. I was called, ‘white trash,’ you name it. But I felt that if their homes were not safe, my home was not safe. If their rights are trampled on, my Jewish rights are trampled on at the same time.

“I was a Holocaust survivor, but I could not talk about it. I did not want to traumatize my children. But that incident with the Bakers, it made an incredible mark on me. I knew that I had to tell my story.

“Racism, bigotry…it’s still happening all over the world, and we have to constantly work at it to see that this does not happen here or anywhere.  We cannot afford to say, ‘What can I do? – I’m only one person?’  One person can do a lot!”


  1. Do you have a book out? I love reading your story and cannot get enough of it!!!!!! You were and are soso brave!
    Thank you!

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