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Foundation Focused on Holocaust to Close
The Narberth-based Gerda and Kurt Klein Foundation, which for the past 14 years has used the lessons of the Holocaust to promote tolerance and community service among students, is closing its doors this month.
The foundation has partnered with Time Inc.'s student program and the Southern Poverty Law Center and has distributed some 150,000 teaching kits over the years, reaching an estimated 12 million to 14 million students and 150,000 teachers in numerous countries.
The kits contain written materials and videos that tell the life story of Gerda Klein, a Holocaust survivor originally from Belitz, Poland.
According to Beth Reisboard, who ran the foundation alongside Nancy Astor Fox, the closing comes not from fundraising troubles but because the educational material and videos distributed by the organization can now easily be viewed online. The organization's website,www.kleinfoundation.org, will be kept active even after the foundation shuts down.
Reisboard said it is also closing because Gerda Klein recently turned 88 and feels she can no longer give her time and energy to the foundation.
Klein survived the Auschwitz concentration camp and later a 350-mile death march. She married the American who liberated her, Kurt Klein, who died in 2002. The couple spent their lives in Buffalo, N.Y., and later in Arizona.
Gerda Klein befriended Reisboard on a visit to the Philadelphia area, and the two came up with the idea to use Klein's story to teach contemporary lessons about tolerance.
Though the foundation was named after the Kleins, the money to run it came from private donations.
In 2010, Gerda Klein received the Presidential Medal of Freedom. The White House said Klein has reached "audiences of all ages and faiths around the world about the value of freedom and has dedicated her life to promoting tolerance and understanding among all people."