In 2007, Helen and Joe (of blessed memory) were honored with the founding of the Helen and Joe Farkas Center for the Study of the Holocaust in Catholic schools
Helen Farkas was born in Romania, as Helen Safar. She remembers the Hungarian occupation and growth of anti-Semitism very clearly. Her family was forced with all the other Jewish families in community to move to a local ghetto, before being deported to Auschwitz. Helen endured a months-long death march until she and her sister made a daring escape. After liberation, Helen made her way to Romania by walking and hopping freight trains. When she finally arrived home, she was reunited with and married her pre-war fiancé, Joe, and together they escaped Romania shortly after it came under communist rule. Helen Farkas lectured widely on her experiences during the Holocaust and
was a driving force in Holocaust education in the San Francisco Bay Area. She began speaking publicly after she spoke to her daughter’s class and understood that by sharing her story, she could touch people’s lives. Helen passed away in 2018 at the age of 97.
Joe Farkas was born in Satu-Mare, Romania and was a locally renowned soccer player. He met Helen just before the war and they were engaged. With the onset of WWII he was drafted into forced labor for the Hungarian army. During his time as a slave laborer Joe was lucky to be assigned a job as a cook in the kitchen; he was always able to eat as well as provide a little extra to other prisoners who needed it. His parents, Louis and Channa, were deported and perished in Auschwitz. Once in the United States Joe and his brother Morris played professional soccer and started a shoe business in which Joe took great pride. By the time he retired, the family owned three shoe stores in the Bay Area. He was vigilant
for his family, always helping those in need, and sitting by the bedside of his brothers who passed away before him. Joe passed away at age 92.
Jim McGarry founded the Helen and Joe Farkas Center for the Study of the Holocaust at Catholic Schools in 2007, and served as its first Director. Jim traveled with Helen Farkas and 24 students to Germany, Poland and Israel in 2012. He started teaching Holocaust Studies in 1992, featuring testimony of survivors. His trainings have included the Museum Fellows program at the USHMM in Washington, D.C. and the Shoah Foundation in Los Angeles.
Adrian Schrek is the first Executive Director of the Farkas Center. She was the Education Director for the Holocaust Center of Northern California providing resources to create and strengthen Holocaust education across the Bay Area. She also served as the director of The Curriculum Initiative (TCI), and the Tauber Holocaust Educator Fellowship, a professional development leadership program for high school teachers. Prior to her appointment as ED, Adrian served on the Farkas Center board for nearly ten years.
Andrew Scott was born in London. His mother was a Holocaust survivor from Berlin who lost 29 family members in Auschwitz. Andrew’s professional career includes work as a college instructor (University of London, San Francisco State University), as a public policy advocate, and non-profit administrator. In 2005, he retired after 13 years as Executive Director for the YMCA of San Francisco to pursue his second career as a working musician and sound engineer as owner of Studio 401, a commercial recording studio. He has two children, both professional musicians, and four grandchildren.
Sister M. Pauline Borghello, R.S.M. is a native San Franciscan. After high school, she entered the Catholic religious order of the Sisters of Mercy. She has a BA in Education and an MA in Educational Administration/Supervision. She has been a teacher and administrator in Catholic elementary schools, most recently serving for 34 years as principal of St. Gabriel School in San Francisco. Sister Pauline continues her work by serving on Sister of Mercy high school boards and committees. She is active in promoting the welfare of aging sisters and planning regional assemblies that provide the opportunity for dialogue. Sister Pauline hopes to bring Holocaust education to Catholic junior high schools in the Archdiocese of San Francisco.
Cynthia Larsen serves as the Director of the Academic Support Center at Marin Catholic High School. She has a B.A. from the University of California, Berkeley and a J.D. from the University of California, Berkeley Law School. Just before her paternal grandfather passed away, he gave her a Yizkor book from his hometown of Rozniatow. Looking through the book as a thirteen year old, Cynthia found the faces of her family members who became martyrs to the Holocaust. One girl in the pictures reminded her of herself. Cynthia believes silence emboldens those who would harm others. She hopes by serving on the Farkas Center board she will encourage students to use their voices to protect those vulnerable to injustices derived from hate.
Elaina Jo LeGault is a high school theology teacher in San Francisco. Elaina received her B.A. in Religious Studies at Loyola University in Chicago and participated in the Ricci Scholars Program where she spent a year studying in Rome, Italy, and Beijing, China. Elaina also worked as the University's first interfaith intern and had the privilege of meeting the Dalai Lama when he came to Loyola to speak on interfaith dialogue. Elaina received a Masters of Divinity at the Jesuit School of Theology in Berkeley and is the recipient of the Presidential Scholarship and the Lucile Murray Durkin Scholarship for Women.
Martin Linder's commitment to education and community was formed through his experience as president of New Jersey's Temple Emanuel youth group. As Professor of SF State’s School of Design, Martin’s contributions to community service received recognition including the Jefferson Award. Martin’s MSL Design firm focuses on the development of products that improve people’s experiences in hospitals and public transportation security systems. These internationally impactful works received the Nightingale Health Care Innovation Award and the Industrial Design Excellence Award. An advocate for public school education, Martin served as a CSU Academic State Senator and on SFUSD Arts Education Committees. He has two children and lives in San Francisco with his wife Colleen and dog Rufus.
Jane Mauchly is a social practice artist and arts educator, her individual and collaborative projects involve visual and performance based arts and storytelling, grounded in community, social and environmental justice. She has been a Farkas Center Board member since 2018.
Anne Grenn Saldinger, Ph.D. is former Executive Director of the Bay Area Holocaust Oral History Project for which she gathered hundreds of life stories of local survivors. She now works with families to preserve their legacies through her organization, “Looking Back for the Future.” Her dissertation research studied the psychological effects of bearing witness for Holocaust survivors and she has presented her findings at conferences worldwide. Since 1999, she has served on the organizing committee for North Peninsula Holocaust Remembrance and coordinates “Generation to Generation,” an intergenerational oral history project bringing together Holocaust survivors with local students. She is author of a textbook, "Life in a Nazi Concentration Camp."
George Schapiro first drove the eponymous Helen Farkas while serving as a volunteer driver for Jewish Family and Children’s Services in 2010. Over the next few years, he drove Helen to many school speaking engagements and assisted her in the Q&A sessions that would follow her presentations. They became good friends, and George joined the Board of the Farkas Center. He’s honored to continue to serve in Helen’s memory.
Lynne Schuman is originally from Chicago. She has a BA in Education and an MA in Law and Legal Studies. She works with her husband’s law office in San Francisco. As a 15-year-old she went with her family to Germany and they visited the grounds of Dachau concentration camp. It left an indelible impression and had a lasting impact. Years later, when her daughter became a Holocaust educator, Lynn attended programs and reignited her interest in the Holocaust and the importance of teaching about it.
Carole Touye worked for many years in the Business Office at Mercy High School and served as a key liaison to the Mercy community. She has been engaged in secretarial work in San Francisco Catholic Schools for more than twenty years. She first got interested in Holocaust education when she heard Helen Farkas speak, and she kept coming back year after year to hear the survivor's stories. She is currently the Treasurer of the Farkas Center.
Rabbi Peretz Wolf-Prusan is the Chief Program Officer and a Senior Educator at Lehrhaus Judaica. He is engaged in community education for the Bay Area, focusing on text study circle, conferences, retreats, tours, and adjunct faculty for the JFCS Holocaust Center. He is also a rabbi in the community.
AnneMarie (Feller) Yellin, was born in Chemnitz, Germany, and survived the Holocaust as a "Hidden Child." After Kristallnacht, she went to Brussels, Belgium where she was hidden in a Catholic Convent for the duration of the war. She is part of the SF JFCS Holocaust Center Speaker's Bureau makes a lot of presentations at various schools. The mission of the Farkas Center is close to her heart and she hopes to be part of it for a longtime to come.
Miriam Zimmerman, Ed.D., served as the interim director of the Farkas Center from 2012 to 2014. Her father, of blessed memory, was a German-Jewish refugee who escaped Nazi Germany in 1937. As part of Patton’s Third Army, he was a liberator of the Buchenwald concentration camp. She has taught a course on the Holocaust at Notre Dame de Namur University since 1995. In 1998, the National Catholic Center for Holocaust Education (NCCHE) sent her to Jerusalem to study at Yad Vashem’s International School for Holocaust Studies. She has presented papers on the Holocaust at Yad Vashem, NCCHE conferences, and the University of Haifa.
STUDENT BOARD MEMBERS
Sarah Barnes is a senior at Convent High School. She first learned about the Holocaust in history class, but seeking to learn more participated in the JFCS Next Chapter Program, which connects Holocaust survivors with students. Sarah joined the Farkas Center Board to further engage in social justice issues and to educate others about these topics.
Nikolas Chupkin is a senior at Stuart Hall High School with a passion for Holocaust education. Coming from a Ukrainian-Jewish family, he has worked with the JFCS Holocaust Center and participated in The Next Chapter and Manovill Fellowship programs. His goal is to amplify the voices of survivors, give voice to those who perished, and honor the stories of his ancestors. Nik seeks to spread awareness of those who share the struggle of being on the receiving end of hate.
Sabrina Jarman was born in Xiaogan, China and immigrated to the United States when she was adopted as a one-year old. She is an alumna of Mercy San Francisco and is currently a junior attending Mercy Burlingame. Her first encounter with the Farkas Center occurred when she was in 8th grade and attended a Kristallnacht event. After being so moved by the experience, Sabrina later became a facilitator for the Farkas Center's Kristallnacht program. Sabrina is a varsity athlete and participates in student government, school clubs, and volunteering.
Natalie Martinez was born in San Francisco and is passionate about working for those who are impacted by social injustice. She is proud to be a Mercy San Francisco alumna and is currently a junior at Archbishop Riordan High School. Hearing the testimony of a friend's mother who was a Holocaust survivor moved her and began her interest in this history. When she was introduced to the Farkas Center, she was immediately compelled to become involved.
Wolfie Tobiason is a native San Franciscan and senior at Stuart Hall High School. His interest in Holocaust studies began in middle school English and history classes. He committed to personally making a difference when he spent time with survivors in the Next Chapter Program through Jewish Family and Children’s Services. He is an avid chess player and is trying to help make chess more accessible to elementary school students in San Francisco.
Thanks to our past Board members and Friends of the Center