Stockton endowed scholarship honors local Holocaust survivor

Posted on October 25, 2022

GALLOWAY TOWNSHIP – For most of her life, not many people knew that Ruth Kessler was a survivor of the Holocaust.

“I was the only one who knew her Holocaust story,” her daughter Michele Taroff said. “She never talked about it. My brothers never knew.”

And Kessler continued to keep mostly quiet about her experience as part of the Kindertransport for many years until her granddaughter, Dani Hong, approached “Mom Mom” in eighth grade to ask if she would talk to her class.

“I saw her face turn white and she just looked at Dani and said, ‘OK.’ And that was the beginning of her telling her story, which she never thought was important enough,” Taroff said.

Kessler’s story about being separated from her mother and sister and sent from her home in Vienna to England in 1939 as part of the Kindertransport has become very important, not just to her family but to hundreds of students she spoke to until her death in 2016.

Her important story and family’s legacy will live on with Stockton students as part of the Ruth Fisch Kessler Memorial Endowed Scholarship. Taroff and her husband, Scott, have set up the scholarship, which will go to a Stockton undergraduate student with a demonstrated interest in Holocaust and genocide studies. The family announced the gift in a ceremony at Stockton’s Sara & Sam Schoffer Holocaust Resource Center earlier this month.

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