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91-yr-old Holocaust survivor Ben Lesser is sharing his story. It's one we all need to hear.

91-yr-old Holocaust survivor Ben Lesser is sharing his story. It's one we all need to hear.
ZACHOR Foundation

"What's 'the Holocaust'?" my 11-year-old son asks me. I take a deep breath as I gauge how much to tell him. He's old enough to understand that prejudice can lead to hatred, but I can't help but feel he's too young to hear about the full spectrum of human horror that hatred can lead to.

I wrestle with that thought, considering the conversation I recently had with Ben Lesser, a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor who was just a little younger than my son when he witnessed his first Nazi atrocity.

It was September of 1939 and the Blitzkrieg occupation of Poland had just begun. Ben, his parents, and his siblings were awakened in their Krakow apartment by Nazi soldiers who pistol-whipped them out of bed and ransacked their home. As the men with the shiny black boots filled burlap sacks with the Jewish family's valuables, a scream came from the apartment across the hall. Ben and his sister ran toward the cry.

They found a Nazi swinging their neighbors' baby upside down by its legs, demanding that the baby's mother make it stop crying. As the parents screamed, "My baby! My baby!" the Nazi smirked—then swung the baby's head full force into the door frame, killing it instantly.

This story and others like it feel too terrible to tell my young son, too out of context from his life of relative safety and security. And yet Ben Lesser lived it at my son's age. And it was too terrible—for anyone, much less a 10-year-old. And it was also completely out of context from the life of relative safety and security Ben and his family had known before the Nazi tanks rolled in.


ZACHOR Foundation

Before I spoke with Ben, I had prepared myself for what I was going to hear. The baby story was brutal, but I'd read enough Holocaust stories to expect all manner of horror. The Jews being rounded up and taken to the woods to dig their own graves before being shot and thrown into them. The cattle cars crammed with bodies so tightly no one could move—where men, women, and children languished in hunger and thirst, standing in their own excrement for days. The Nazi commandant who made every 10th prisoner in line hold their body over a sawhorse and take 25 lashes, shooting in the head anyone whose body touched the sawhorse through the beating.

The concentration camps, the death camps, the gas chambers. I was prepared for all of that.

What I wasn't prepared for was the fact that Ben Lesser's dad was a chocolate maker. He was one of the first, Ben explained to me proudly, to make chocolate-covered wafer cookies, like a Kit-Kat, only he made his in the shape of animals.

Hearing Ben describe the way he and his siblings would excitedly run to their father when he got home from work, knowing he'd have pockets full of chocolate for them—that was the detail that did me in. The simple sweetness of it. The fact that their life was so delightfully normal before it turned into a nightmare. That backdrop made hearing about the horrors Ben witnessed and experienced from age 10 to 16 all the more heinous.

ZACHOR Foundation

Ben was 15 when he and two of his siblings were shoved into a cattle car and transported to Auschwitz-Birkenau, the largest Nazi concentration camp complex where Nazis systematically murdered 1.1 million people in five years. When they exited the car, a man was directing people to go left or right. Ben, a strong young man, was sent to the right with his uncle and cousin—they were going to work. His sister Goldie and younger brother Tuli were sent to the left.

Ben only learned that his sister and brother had gone straight to the gas chambers when a guard later explained, with a twisted sense of satisfaction, that the ash gently falling from the sky was made up of the bodies of the workers' loved ones.

By the time the war ended, Ben would lose his parents, three of his four siblings, and countless extended family members and friends to Hitler and his followers' hatred. His older sister, Lola, was the only member of his immediate family to survive.

The stories Ben shared from Auschwitz-Birkenau, from the "Death March" to Buchenwald, and from Dachau—where he would ultimately be liberated when the war ended—are every bit as horrific as everything I've described so far. It would take far more space than I have here to share it all, but Ben has written it all down—the tragedy and suffering as well as the miracles that occurred both during and after the war—in his autobiography.

But simply putting it all down in writing wasn't enough.

ZACHOR Foundation

"In my mind there are questions that have never been answered," Ben writes in the opening of his memoir. "You might be surprised to learn that my first unanswered question is not, Why did that insane Hitler try to destroy the Jewish People? Instead, my first unanswered question is, Why did the so-called sane world stand by and let this Genocide happen?

"Having experienced the savagery of genocide first-hand as a child, while living in a supposedly modern, cultured, European country, I also have two additional questions: One, What are the circumstances and choices that led up to this and other genocides? And two: What must we do to prevent it from happening again? Anywhere. Because, sadly, as the old saying tells us, 'The more things change, the more they stay the same.'"

These are the questions Ben seeks to help all of us answer as time takes us further and further away from the Holocaust. Ben is one of a handful of survivors who are able to share first-hand experiences as Jews under Nazi terror—a fact he was keenly aware of when he founded the ZACHOR Holocaust Remembrance Foundation in 2009. "ZACHOR" means "REMEMBER," and the purpose of the foundation is to make sure the world never forgets the lessons of the Holocaust or the millions of individual lives that were taken there.

The story of the Holocaust isn't just in the masses of humanity killed, but in the individual stories of those who survived. For years, Ben spoke at schools, sharing his story with young people. At 91, Ben has retired from the school circuit, but he's not slowing down in his efforts to teach the lesson of what hate can lead to.

ZACHOR has just launched an online Holocaust curriculum—the first to be created and facilitated by and through the firsthand testimonial of a survivor. Ben told Upworthy that he wanted to create a curriculum that would be free and easy for teachers to access so there would be no excuse for schools not to teach about the Holocaust.

Considering the study findings that came out today, Ben's curriculum could not be more timely.

The 50-state survey of young adults in the U.S. found that nearly two-thirds were unaware that 6 million Jews were killed in the Holocaust, nearly 1 in 4 say they think the Holocaust is a myth or that it's exaggerated, and approximately 1 in 10 had either had never heard of it, didn't think it happened at all, or—perhaps most alarmingly—think Jews were responsible for it.

Clearly, we need to be doing a better job of educating our kids about the Holocaust. If we don't, the online disinformation machine will lead them to believe it was all a hoax.

The Zachor Holocaust Curriculum consists of eight lessons, which interweave Ben's personal story with facts about the Eastern European part of the war, how Hitler and the Nazis operated, and the Holocaust in general. It includes written content, fact inserts, photographs, and videos. It is free to register to use, and available to anyone with internet.

Perhaps the most unique element of the ZACHOR curriculum is the interactive component. Ben has created a Storyfile—a mix of artificial intelligence and hologram technology that will enable people to ask Ben questions and get answers long after he's no longer here. He spent hours answering thousands of questions, all of which was recorded from various angles and put into the Storyfile program, so people will always be able to hear Ben's answers to their questions from his own mouth.

Ben's foundation has also launched an anti-bullying campaign called "I SHOUT OUT." Anyone can go to the website i-shout-out.org and share what they shout out for—equality, peace, human rights, etc.—to let the world they stand against hatred.

I asked Ben what is the main message he wants people to take from the horrors of the Holocaust. He said, "It's very simple. Stop the hatred."

We all need to listen and heed Ben's words. Even just this five-minute video in which he shares how the Holocaust got started is worth viewing and sharing with our kids.

3 - Ben's Testimony. It all started with hatred.youtu.be

It may be a few more years before I share the full scope of Nazi cruelty with my son. But I will absolutely make sure that he knows what happened during WWII, about the millions of lives destroyed by hatred, and how, as Ben says, "One person with the gift of gab could turn the minds of millions."

Zachor indeed. We will remember.

Images provided by P&G

Three winners will be selected to receive $1000 donated to the charity of their choice.

True

Doing good is its own reward, but sometimes recognizing these acts of kindness helps bring even more good into the world. That’s why we’re excited to partner with P&G again on the #ActsOfGood Awards.

The #ActsOfGood Awards recognize individuals who actively support their communities. It could be a rockstar volunteer, an amazing community leader, or someone who shows up for others in special ways.

Do you know someone in your community doing #ActsOfGood? Nominate them between April 24th-June 3rdhere.Three winners will receive $1,000 dedicated to the charity of their choice, plus their story will be highlighted on Upworthy’s social channels. And yes, it’s totally fine to nominate yourself!

We want to see the good work you’re doing and most of all, we want to help you make a difference.

While every good deed is meaningful, winners will be selected based on how well they reflect Upworthy and P&G’s commitment to do #ActsOfGood to help communities grow.

That means be on the lookout for individuals who:

Strengthen their community

Make a tangible and unique impact

Go above and beyond day-to-day work

The #ActsOfGood Awards are just one part of P&G’s larger mission to help communities around the world to grow. For generations, P&G has been a force for growth—making everyday products that people love and trust—while also being a force for good by giving back to the communities where we live, work, and serve consumers. This includes serving over 90,000 people affected by emergencies and disasters through the Tide Loads of Hope mobile laundry program and helping some of the millions of girls who miss school due to a lack of access to period products through the Always #EndPeriodPoverty initiative.

Visit upworthy.com/actsofgood and fill out the nomination form for a chance for you or someone you know to win. It takes less than ten minutes to help someone make an even bigger impact.

Science

MIT’s trillion-frames-per-second camera can capture light as it travels

"There's nothing in the universe that looks fast to this camera."

Photo from YouTube video.

Photographing the path of light.

A new camera developed at MIT can photograph a trillion frames per second.

Compare that with a traditional movie camera which takes a mere 24. This new advancement in photographic technology has given scientists the ability to photograph the movement of the fastest thing in the Universe, light.


The actual event occurred in a nano second, but the camera has the ability to slow it down to twenty seconds.

time, science, frames per second, bounced light

The amazing camera.

Photo from YouTube video.

For some perspective, according to New York Times writer, John Markoff, "If a bullet were tracked in the same fashion moving through the same fluid, the resulting movie would last three years."


In the video below, you'll see experimental footage of light photons traveling 600-million-miles-per-hour through water.

It's impossible to directly record light so the camera takes millions of scans to recreate each image. The process has been called femto-photography and according to Andrea Velten, a researcher involved with the project, "There's nothing in the universe that looks fast to this camera."

(H/T Curiosity)


This article originally appeared on 09.08.17

Photo by Taylor Heery on Unsplash

People are right to complain about being charged a cleaning fee and being asked to do chores.

In 2016, My husband and I started renting our basement apartment out as a short-term rental on Airbnb. We live in a college town and figured we'd get some guests during football game weekends and graduations. We didn't realize how many people come to our town to visit their college kids or check out the school, so we were pleasantly surprised by how regularly we were booked.

In 2019, we bought the house next door and now rent out both floors of the old house as separate units. We love being Airbnb hosts and have had a very successful run of it, with hundreds of 5-star reviews, Superhost status and lots of repeat guests.

We also don't charge a cleaning fee or make guests do check-out chores. In fact, we find both things rather loathsome.


What makes us good hosts is that we've been Airbnb guests for years. As a family of five that travels a lot, we've found far more value in Airbnbs than in hotels over the years. We love having a kitchen, living room and bedrooms and feeling like we have a "home" while traveling. We even spent a nomadic year staying at short-term rentals for a month at a time.

When you've experienced dozens of Airbnbs as a guest, you learn what guests appreciate and what they don't. You see what's annoying and unnecessary and what's to be expected in comparison to a hotel. We started taking mental notes long before we started our own rental about what we would want to do and not do if we ever had one and have implemented those things now that we do.

As guests, we know the pain of the cleaning fee, so we don't charge one.

via GIPHY

It helps that my husband has a flexible schedule and grew up helping with his parents' janitorial service, so most of the time he cleans the apartments himself. We could charge a cleaning fee for his time and labor, but even if we were paying for outside cleaners, we still wouldn't put a separate fee onto guest bookings. It makes far more sense to us to just wrap the cleaning fee into the per-night price.

From a host's perspective, the one-night stay is where the cleaning fee question hits the hardest. Whether someone stays one night or 10 nights, the cleaning cost is the same. But spreading the cost over 10 nights is a very different beast than adding it to one night, especially from a guest's perspective. On the host side, if we had to pay cleaners without passing that fee onto guests, we've barely make anything on one-night stays. But on the guest side, a $100 a night stay suddenly jumping to $150 because a cleaning fee was added is painful, and often a dealbreaker. You can see the conundrum.

The way we see it, and as other Airbnb hosts have found, wrapping cleaning costs into the base price comes out in the wash over time, as long as you have some longer-term stays mixed in with the one-nighters. And it's a much better experience for the guest not to get hit with sticker shock on the "final cost" screen, which is already eye-popping when service fees and taxes are added on.

(I will say, this may only ring true for smaller units. If you're renting a huge home, cleaning costs are going to be higher just because it takes longer to clean. But I still don't think the full cost should be passed onto guests as a separate fee.)

As for check-out chores—asking guests to do things like start laundry, sweep the floor, take out the trash, etc.—those have never made sense to us. Hosts should have enough switch-out linens that laundry doesn't have to be started prior to checking out, and none of those chores save enough time for the cleaning people to make it worth asking guests to do it. I can see taking out trash if there wasn't going to be another guest for a while, but usually you'd want to clean right away after a stay anyway just in case it does get booked last minute.

The only thing we ask guests to do is to start the dishwasher if they have dirty dishes (as a guest, I've never found that an unreasonable request), lock the door and have a safe trip home. Don't need to pull the sheets. Don't need to take out any garbage or recycling. Those things don't take that long, but that's just as much a reason not to ask guests to do it. Annoying your guests by asking them to do something extra isn't worth the tiny bit of time it might save the cleaning people.

And you know what? This approach works really well. Approximately 95% of guests leave the apartments clean and tidy anyway. In seven years, I can count on one hand how many problems we've had with guests leaving a mess. That's been a pleasant surprise, but I think part of the reason is that guest are simply reciprocating the respect and consideration we show them by not making them pay extra fees or do chores on their way out.

To be fair, it probably also helps that we aren't some big real estate tycoon that bought up a bunch of apartments and turning them into short-term rentals run by impersonal management companies. People's complaints about how short-term rentals impact local housing economies are legitimate. We're more aligned with the original "sharing economy" model, renting out our home to guests who come through town. And in a small college town with a large university, there often aren't enough hotel rooms during busy weekends anyway, so it's been a bit of a win-win.

I think being right next door, having personal communication with our guests (but also leaving them their privacy), and not charging or asking anything extra of them makes them want to be respectful guests. From our perspective, both as guests and hosts, cleaning fees and check-out chores simply aren't worth it.


Representative image from Canva

Because who can keep up with which laundry settings is for which item, anyway?

Once upon a time, our only option for getting clothes clean was to get out a bucket of soapy water and start scrubbing. Nowadays, we use fancy machines that not only do the labor for us, but give us free reign to choose between endless water temperature, wash duration, and spin speed combinations.

Of course, here’s where the paradox of choice comes in. Suddenly you’re second guessing whether that lace item needs to use the “delicates” cycle, or the “hand wash” one, or what exactly merits a “permanent press” cycle. And now, you’re wishing for that bygone bucket just to take away the mental rigamarole.

Well, you’re in luck. Turns out there’s only one setting you actually need. At least according to one laundry expert.

While appearing on HuffPost’s “Am I Doing It Wrong?” podcast, Patric Richardson, aka The Laundry Evangelist, said he swears by the “express” cycle, as “it’s long enough to get your clothes clean but it’s short enough not to cause any damage.”

Richardson’s reasoning is founded in research done while writing his book, “Laundry Love,” which showed that even the dirtiest items would be cleaned in the “express” cycle, aka the “quick wash” or “30 minute setting.”


Furthermore the laundry expert, who’s also the host of HGTV’s “Laundry Guy,” warned that longer wash settings only cause more wear and tear, plus use up more water and power, making express wash a much more sustainable choice.

Really, the multiple settings washing machines have more to do with people being creatures of habit, and less to do with efficiency, Richardson explained.

“All of those cycles [on the washing machine] exist because they used to exist,” he told co-hosts Raj Punjabi and Noah Michelson. “We didn’t have the technology in the fabric, in the machine, in the detergent [that we do now], and we needed those cycles. In the ’70s, you needed the ‘bulky bedding’ cycle and the ‘sanitary’ cycle ... it was a legit thing. You don’t need them anymore, but too many people want to buy a machine and they’re like, ‘My mom’s machine has “whitest whites.”’ If I could build a washing machine, it would just have one button — you’d just push it, and it’d be warm water and ‘express’ cycle and that’s it.”
washing machine

When was the last time you washed you washing machine? "Never" is a valid answer.

Canva

According to Good Housekeeping, there are some things to keep in mind if you plan to go strictly express from now on.

For one thing, the outlet recommends only filling the machine halfway and using a half dose of liquid, not powder detergent, since express cycles use less water. Second, using the setting regularly can develop a “musty” smell, due to the constant low-temperature water causing a buildup of mold or bacteria. To prevent this, running an empty wash on a hot setting, sans the detergent, is recommended every few weeks, along with regularly scrubbing the detergent drawer and door seal.

Still, even with those additional caveats, it might be worth it just to knock out multiple washes in one day. Cause let’s be honest—a day of laundry and television binging sounds pretty great, doesn’t it?

To catch even more of Richardson’s tips, find the full podcast episode here.


This article originally appeared on 2.4.24

A respectable Weimaraners sits on the rug.

It’s incredibly rare to see a dog, especially a large one, sitting upright at a dinner table. It’s probably even more rare to see one that isn’t bothering with any food. That’s why a video posted by Federica Finocchiaro has captivated the public.

In a video seen over 2.3 million times on TikTok, Federica Finocchiaro shares how her dog, Grayson, a Weimaraner, is a very polite table guest.

“Does anyone else's dog just sit at the table?” Finocchiaro asked as she and her mother, Domenica Vinci, enjoyed breakfast together. “He just sits with us, and we didn't make him sit here... He just loves the company,” she continued.


Finocchiaro then shared a video of Grayson sitting with the family on Christmas. “My mom and I will come downstairs, or we'll be doing something and he's just sitting at the table casually,” said Finocchiaro. “He never tries to eat the food that we're eating—ever.”

@federicafinocchiaro_

Love u grayson #greenscreen #dog #puppy #funnydogs #fyp #wiemeraner #dogsoftiktok #dogtok #foryoupage #pup

Love u grayson #greenscreen #dog #puppy #funnydogs #fyp #wiemeraner #dogsoftiktok #dogtok #foryoupage #pup

Some people in the video's comments speculated about Grayson’s past. "He was human in a past life for sure," Ariel T wrote. “He thinks he's human,” David added.

"His love language is quality time," nonshowbizgf wrote.

Even though it seems strange that a dog would want to hang out at a dinner table, it could be because Weimaraners are very dedicated to their owners. “They can get depressed and act out if they are ignored,” the American Kennel Club wrote on its website. “This can lead to separation anxiety problems, notes the Weimaraner Club of America, so it’s important to teach puppies that there will be times when they will have to be on their own.”


A couple arguing on the couch.

Research shows that couples are becoming more egalitarian as it pertains to income. But when it comes to the division of domestic labor and taking care of families, there is still a considerable gap between the work done by men and women in heterosexual marriages.

Consider this: the average woman dedicates 4.6 hours per week to housework, while men contribute only 1.9 hours. Furthermore, women spend nearly 2 more hours on caregiving, including child-rearing than men.

Men and women are still having a hard time creating equal partnerships, and, more often than not, it means that women are the default parents of their children. They are also in charge of domestic duties and often have to make lists for their husbands and nag them to do their part.


Abby Eckel, a popular social media wife and mother, thinks this needs to end and uses her considerable platform to push to equalize domestic labor. In a video with over 900,000 views, she explains the harsh truth of why some men take advantage of their wives and refuse to change.

This is a harsh truth. But it needs to be said. He simply doesn't care. 

@itsme_abbye

This is a harsh truth. But it needs to be said. He simply doesn't care. It should not take conversation after conversation after conversation for your husband/boyfriend/partner to list, learn, and change. It's because he doesn't care. It doesn't benefit him to change. Approaching your husband AGAIN to discuss household inequity is likely to fall on deaf ears because he has been EXPLOITING your time, energy and labor. And if he didn't care when he started doing it, he sure as shit isn't going to care now. And he likely knows there will be no consequence when he doesn't. Because again, this probably isn't the first time this conversation has been had. And nothing happened the last time you had, so why would it happen no? This is the very reason I tell women who are early in relationships, and those that are single - start out as you mean to go on. This requires setting boundaries for yourself and the person you're in a relationship with. Be clear and upfront on what you expect out of it, what you will and won't do. Because the second you start cleaning up his place, or your shared space, doing his laundry, looking after and caring for pets without setting firm expectations, you'll soon find yourself being the sole owner and doer of those tasks. And trying to set boundaries after the fact - AFTER a man has benefited from you doing it, isn't likely to happen. #marriage #datingadvice #relationshiptips #marriedlife

“This is going to sound harsh, but I think a lot of people actually just really need to hear the truth, and it’s because he doesn’t care. It doesn’t benefit him to change,” she says in the viral video.

“Approaching your husband again to discuss an issue, whether it’s household inequity, you not feeling considered, or you not feeling like he’s putting any time and effort into it, is likely going to fall on deaf ears because he’s been exploiting your time, your labor, your energy and if he didn’t care when he started doing it, he’s not going to care now,” Eckel continues.

Unfortunately, according to Eckel, if there are no consequences for refusing to be an equal partner, he won’t change. She equates it to parents who make threats to child children but don't follow through.

“Eventually, things are going to go back to how they were. You’re going to stop nagging him and he’s going to be fine with it. Until you bring it up again. And then again, nothing happens because there’s no consequences. So why would he want to change?” she says.

Eckel believes the key to avoiding this trap is to set firm boundaries at the beginning of the relationship.

“Be clear and upfront on what you expect out of it, what you will and won’t do,” she continues. “Because the second you start cleaning up his place, or your shared space, doing his laundry, looking after and caring for pets without setting firm expectations, you’ll soon find yourself being the sole owner and doer of those tasks, and trying to set boundaries after the fact — after a man has benefited from you doing it, isn’t likely to happen.”

Obviously, not all men have problems doing their fair share of domestic labor in a family. Eckel made another video in which she shares the positive qualities that an equal partner brings to the table.

"I don't have to make him a list."

"I don't have to ask him to help with things around the house."

"He knows how to shop at the grocery store without pictures."

"He doesn't expect me to handle everything alone."

"He plans date nights without me having to beg for it."

"He does his own laundry."

"He makes his own appointments."

"My stocking has never been empty."

"He makes his kids' lunches in the morning."

"He makes his son's therapy appointments and takes his son to them."

"He doesn't believe that just because he goes to work, he shouldn't have to do anything when he gets home."

"He takes a genuine interest in me and my interests."

"He knows how to fold towels."

"He takes our kids to bed and knows our teachers' names."

"He doesn't make me feel bad if I'm not in the mood."

"He acknowledges and appreciates what I do and tells me often."

"He does basic adult tasks without being asked."