shattered stars healing hearts by irene stern frielich speaking 01

Presentations, Author Talks, and Book Discussions

Irene has delivered onsite and virtual presentations to over 1,500 people. Below is a sampling of her multimedia presentations, which can be adapted based on your group’s interests.

Click the button below to schedule a presentation, author talk, or book discussion.

Available Presentations

The house Walter and his family lived in on Geburtsstrasse in Bocholt

Shattered Stars:
The Power of Courage, Compassion, and Kindness

In this presentation, Irene retraces the Stern-Herzfeld family’s footsteps as they escape their comfortable home in Germany on Kristallnacht in 1938 and cross the border to the Netherlands. The family lives there in relative safety until the Nazis invade and turn their world upside down. Using photos, interviews, audio and video recordings, Irene covers the period from 1938 through liberation in 1945. She brings to life the people and places portrayed in her memoir, including a baker, a coffee roaster, farmers, clergy, and officials, many of whom demonstrated courage, compassion, and kindness to help her family survive. And she describes unexpected encounters with descendants of people who knew her family so many decades ago.

HEALING HEARTS: MY RETURN HOME

In this moving presentation, Irene offers video recordings of two powerful ceremonies she and members of her family attended during her trips to Germany in 2018 and 2019. Standing amid the ghosts and memories of her forebears in her ancestral home, Irene attends a Kristallnacht commemoration in the small town of Meudt. At another ceremony in Bocholt, Irene unveils Stolpersteine stones that memorialize her family. Witness the mournful “El Maleh Rachamim” prayer invoked to honor the dead.

Visit the streets where Irene’s family lived. Walk through the cemeteries where they are buried and sense the “silence” that pervades these towns. Learn about the emotional complexities of returning “home,” where Irene and her family are warmly greeted by German citizens who are working hard today to remember and honor the Jewish people of yesterday.

Stolpersteine, stumbling stones
shattered stars healing hearts by irene stern frielich speaking 04

Beschert: Amazing Coincidences (or Are They?)

As Irene retraced her family’s footsteps and began to unravel her father’s story, she and her family felt an inexplicable yet palpable sense of being guided. They experienced “signs” that led them to believe they were on the right path toward uncovering their family’s footsteps from so long ago. Cherries, buildings, and symbolic trees emerged and reemerged in seemingly mysterious ways. Experience your own sense of wonder as Irene reveals new understandings of her father, of herself, and of our interconnectedness in the world. Learn about the previously unknown importance of cherry trees in their lives. Meet their distant cousins from a distant town. Marvel at the story of a teacher from Bocholt, Germany, with an unexpected U.S. connection that will leave you wondering what is coincidence and what is “beschert,” meant to be. The presentation poses the question: If we open our eyes to our surroundings and allow ourselves to confront the truth of our lives, what can we know? What can we learn? How can we grow and connect?

Fee for speaking: travel expenses + honorarium to be arranged.

Author Talks and Book Discussions

Hosting a book group? Teaching a class? Leading a workshop?

Irene is available to present excerpts from her memoir, share her writing process, and answer questions from the audience. The program is flexible based on the interests of the group.

Sign up to receive a free discussion guide that includes engaging and provocative questions related to the book. Topics include: making decisions to be courageous, how individuals and communities can make an impact, history and current events, and the complexities of addressing trauma and remembering the past.

Testimonials

“… Irene’s presentation was both inspiring and motivating, as her focus on the 18 people that helped her father survive encouraged listeners to be upstanders, not bystanders.  This is a wonderful opportunity for both children and adults to hear a different type of Holocaust story.”—Cheryl Gavin, Co-President, Temple Beth El (Patchogue, NY), November 2023

The presentation was excellent, emotional, compelling and, of course disturbing … Recordings of her father’s first-hand accounts of their journey, as well as her own research and visits retracing their steps in those regions in Europe and meeting with the descendants of people involved, both good and bad, brings their story strikingly to life! … It was the best presentation we have had in recent memory.”Farley Nachemin, President, Congregation Beth Sholom (Babylon, NY), November 2023

“I grew up in the generation after the Holocaust, aware of it in our collective history like a dark shadow, with evil oozing out of its edges. But that’s not how Irene presents her story. Instead of focusing on the evil, she focuses on the good:  people who stepped up to help her father in a most desperate time. Irene’s presentation helped me reframe my view of that time in our history – and for that, I will be forever grateful.”—Vivian Sternweiler, Secretary, Temple Kol Ami (Fort Mill, SC), April 2023

“Irene’s presentation was truly interesting and inspiring, giving insight and walking us through her father’s journey during the Holocaust. It [included] audio of her father’s voice . . .  in which he revealed the various people and places that helped his family escape the Nazis. Irene’s father left this beautiful legacy, which she is now able to pass on to others, a true gift.”—Pat DeBiasi, Fairing Way resident, February 2022

“Irene’s thought-provoking presentation and discussion, which she supplements with family photographs and her father’s audio recordings, is remarkable and fascinating. Irene makes her family’s horror story come alive.—Jack Jones, Fairing Way resident, February 2022

Thank you for sharing the story! You made all of the adults and students think about kindness and resiliency! Your pride of and love for your father and grandmother were apparent in your presentation!”—Tatyana Rozenblyum, January 2022

Past Events

Synagogues, Churches, and Other Faith-Based Organizations

Morristown Jewish Center, Morristown, NJ || 2024

First Church, Ipswich, MA || 2024

Temple Beth El, Patchogue, NY || 2023

Congregation Beth Sholom, Babylon, NY || 2023

Temple Beth David, Westwood, MA || 2023

Temple Kol Tikvah, Davidson, NC || 2023

Temple Beth David, Canton, MA || 2023, 2020, 2019

Temple Israel, Sharon, MA || 2024, 2021, 2019

Temple Shir Tikvah, Winchester, MA || 2021

Temple Beth Sholom, Framingham, MA || 2020

Temple Sinai, Sharon, MA || 2019

Community Groups

Sharon Public Library, Sharon, MA || 2024

Hadassah, Sharon/Stoughton, MA || 2021

Hazak, Sharon, MA || 2021

Limmud learning conference at Kehillath Israel, Brookline, MA || 2020, 2019

2G (Second Generation Holocaust Survivors) Group, Framingham, MA || 2019

Medienzentrum, Bocholt, Germany || 2019

Schools and Universities

Pine Springs Preparatory Academy, Holy Springs, NC || 2024

St. Elizabeth University, Morristown, NJ || 2024

Winthrop University, Rock Hill, SC || 2023

Temple Kol Ami Religious School, Fort Mill, SC || 2023

Granite Academy, Braintree, MA || 2022

Boston Public Schools, Boston, MA || 2021

Senior and 55+ Communities

Sun City Carolina Lakes, Fort Mill, SC || 2023

Fairing Way, Weymouth, MA || 2022

Jenks Senior Center, Winchester, MA || 2021

Oak Point Community, Middleboro, MA || 2021

Contact the Author

If you have questions or comments, please complete the form below and Irene will respond within two business days. Thanks!

Read a Chapter

Complete the form below and you will be redirected to the chapter to read.

Submitting your email address for the chapter read also subscribes you to our mailing list. We value your privacy and we do not sell, rent, or lease our email lists to third parties. We promise not to over-email you either.