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Holocaust survivor earns doctorate for life’s work

The 70-year-old survivor spent her eighth birthday in the Terezin concentration camp in Czechoslovakia, where she was only one out of 100 children to survive. She said she was also the last Jewish child to be born in her hometown of Kippenheim, a small village in southern Germany. Auerbacher, now a Jamaica resident, was given an honorary doctorate in humane letters by Long Island University's Brooklyn campus earlier last month for her humanitarian work and she recently just returned from speaking stints in Kansas, Missouri and Michigan.The retired chemist said she has a fondness for lecturing to children about the Holocaust and human rights because they are the future."My hope, my wish and prayer is for every child to grow up in peace without hunger and prejudice," she said.With the number of Holocaust survivors dwindling due to old age, Auerbacher said her public speaking tours have increased as time goes by."I feel I have a special obligation to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive, especially to the 1.5 million Jewish children that were killed. They deserved to live as much as I did," she said in an interview.She even documented her experiences living in Nazi Germany, from Kristallnacht, or the night of broken glass, where synagogues and Jewish homes were destroyed, through her and her parents' liberation from Terezin, courtesy of Soviet forces. The book, titled "I Am A Star" and written for eight to 12-year-olds, was published by Penguin in seven languages, Auerbacher said. She mentioned that the title has a double meaning, referring to the yellow star the Nazis forced her and other Jews to wear. "I'm turning a negative symbol into something positive," Auerbacher said. "The Nazis wanted me to be an ugly star, but I turn that around to say that I am someone with worth."She said that she not only preaches tolerance, but practices it as well by living in a row house between a Hindu and Muslim family. She is also good friends with the DeSasure twins, African-American sisters who broke a barrier by becoming the first black girls to run in New York City track meets approved by the Amateur Athletic Union. Auerbacher and the twins wrote a book called "Running Against The Wind."Auerbacher has also written "Beyond the Yellow Star to America," which chronicles her life after the Holocaust.Despite living through terror, hardship and the prospect of death, Auerbacher still maintains an optimistic outlook on life and appreciates all people and religions. "It's easier to hate than to love. I've always been a positive person," she said. "To be a continuously hateful person, it goes nowhere."After all her accomplishments, Auerbacher said she still has one goal she wants to achieve Ð to appear on the Oprah Winfrey show.Reach reporter Howard Koplowitz by e-mail at news@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 173

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