By the hundreds, students show their appreciation for Irene, her story, and message by making cards and artwork for her. Here are examples of what she has received.

IMG_7455.JPG

Dear Irene Butter, I feel like when she had to leave (your) father's dead body behind was an extremely emotional experience. I feel for you and the experience you must have had. -Fran

I am finally free, long days and long nights, sleeping away from my family completely out of sight. I am finally free,  from being a slave all my life, praying each day and night, everyday worrying about my kids and wife. I am finally free,  I sing with joyful sound, I am free, I am free, and now I am found. I am finally free.

I am finally free,

long days and long nights,

sleeping away from my family

completely out of sight.

I am finally free, 

from being a slave all my life,

praying each day and night,

everyday worrying about my kids and wife.

I am finally free, 

I sing with joyful sound,

I am free, I am free,

and now I am found.

I am finally free.

IMG_1508.JPG
IMG_7454.JPG
IMG_1511.JPG
IMG_7458.JPG
What is Hope? Hope is the lone flower fluttering in the breeze above the hell and hot water between hate and love, heaven and hell. Would you pick me, or wait until I bloom?

What is Hope?

Hope is the lone flower

fluttering in the breeze

above the hell and hot water

between hate and love,

heaven and hell.

Would you pick me,

or wait until I bloom?

IMG_1510.JPG
IMG_7456.JPG
IMG_1514.JPG
IMG_7462.JPG

The seasons change throughout the years, and many people live in fear. They hide away from the rest of the world, while other people stood and quarreled, over who was going to live. But soon when they had learned to cope, they saw it was better to live in hope. So like the seasons they decided to change from fear to hope, and death to life, ending a. reign of terror. - Maddy Hanton

IMG_1509.JPG
IMG_1498.JPG
IMG_1512.JPG
IMG_7461.JPG
IMG_7457.JPG
IMG_7465.JPG
IMG_7467.JPG
IMG_7475.JPG
IMG_7470.JPG
IMG_7502.JPG
IMG_7464.JPG
IMG_7474.JPG
IMG_7469.JPG
IMG_7477.JPG
IMG_7473.JPG
IMG_7512.JPG
IMG_7478.JPG
IMG_7460.JPG
IMG_7471.JPG
IMG_7463.JPG
IMG_7476.JPG
IMG_7472.JPG
IMG_7501.JPG
IMG_7510_sm.jpg
if you make anne frank jokes, you are not my friend.

you think a beautiful transcendent girl is
just a black and white photo of her smiling
that time you read her diary with your english class
she is a concept to you
not a person
don’t plaster her face on a poster
with her name listed under “famous jews”
don’t talk about Hitler like a joke.
how can you call the hatred of a people a joke
how can you utter laugher
at the fact that my grandfather had to pretend to be Christian to stay alive
how he lived each day with a name that wasn’t his
practicing a religion he knew he didn’t belong to
how can you laugh.
at a woman I know
Irene
who survived human destruction
in Bergen Belsen
Saw that beautiful transcendent girl
through barbed wire
tears streaming down her face
“thin and she had no clothes
only a grey blanket wrapped around her”
told Irene’s friend her parents were dead and her sister was sick
and Irene and her friend, they asked if there was anything they could do.
they brought her clothes, the only thing never taken away from them at Bergen Belsen
with everything they had
in darkness
they threw the bundle over the barbed wire
hoping the woman who caught it would give the bundle to the girl. and yes, she did.
Irene lost her father on a train. they took his body off.
but she kept going
while losing everything at the same time.
i try to speak
speak when my friend shows me a video of someone imitating Anne Frank
and he is laughing
and i am not laughing and he sees me not laughing.
and sometimes i don’t speak, because I just can’t.
I couldn’t when i saw Anne Frank’s face taped onto a poster board labeled “Judaism”
i couldn’t when my own friend, in 2017, had swastikas drawn on a photo of her
That woman who saw the beautiful transcendent girl through a fence,
she opens her mouth to only kind things
my grandfather’s list of the 10 things he needed to be happy
“a lovely wife
his grandkids
reasonably good health
a couple good friends”
it hangs on the wall beside my bed
i see him in every member of my family
i hold tightly onto every gold coin he gave me
i still feel his hugs.
i try to love and live like him.
i can still see the yellow star on his jacket
i think about if i would even exist
had my grandfather not gotten off the ground while crossing the Czech-Austria border
when all he wanted to do was not go on
he went on.
i think about all of the luck
like a flip of a coin, my mother says
so please
what happened to my people is nothing funny.
it is real and terrible
but it happened.
that friend who showed me the video
he said sorry.
i wonder how many more sorrys there will be.
i think about how my grandfather’s life was determined by a flip of a coin.
and how my grandfather is dead and how soon all who lived through that will be dead.
once they’re all gone
who will be left to apologize to?

Isabel Ratner
3/30/17