Monday, March 20, 2023

“Jeffy writes a lot better than he speaks”

Statement from my sister-in-law Robin Sambur

I’m not a public speaker. My comfort zone is one on one/small group conversational communication or just plain silence. 

I’m the kind of guy who when asked about a campout will gush. “The hiking and weather were perfect. I didn’t speak to anyone for a week. It was great!”

So why would I leap an intergalactic distance beyond my comfort zone with a Holocaust Awareness presentation at the Durango Public Library? Because of the recent rising trifecta of White Supremacy, Nationalism and Anti-Semitism. Because a former president is honky dory with breaking cheeseburgers with two avowed Anti-Semites and Holocaust deniers. That’s why.

The full title of the program was “Holocaust Awareness: A unique perspective from a son of Holocaust Survivors.” 

Honestly, children of Holocaust Survivors in NYC are as prevalent as pizzerias.  There’s heaps of each. BUT in Durango, CO land of Anglo American descendants of the Mayflower,
I knew my family history would stand out. 

As one long time resident opined, “Durango is a pretty sheltered town.” 

I launched the idea to Daisy the library’s programming director. After a few emails and a synopsis of my talk, I got the green light. That was about six months ago. OY! Now I was committed. I’d eventually have to stand up in front of strangers and speak. 

The plan was to use my family themed blogs as a template for the talk. I’d intersperse historical events as well. For the visual part, there was black and white family photos. Easy! Right? (except for the speaking part).

I purchased an old fashioned lined school kid notebook and started writing my spiel.. No problem with that. After a few drafts, I had my thoughts and ideas on something solid and tangible. Now I needed to vocalize the story since Spock-like Volcan mind melds are a rare talent.

At home, I stood in front of a sunny side window and began to read the story from the notebook. Bad idea! This was too distracting and caused too many “Ummm” and other stuttering moments. I memorized the talk.

Three days before “Program Lift Off” one of my few buddies in Durango granted me an audition. Sarah even fed me! It didn’t go well , my talk not her meal. I had to take it from the top twice before I got through my speech. Sarah was kind enough to give me encouraging words, although I knew I had to elevate my game. 

I was nervous. I couldn’t sleep or eat! Although Happy Hour IPAs went down well. Then! A lightning bolt struck nearby, the Red Sea might have parted once again. A Sambini original idea was formed. I’d feed the audience.After all food is the universal ice breaker.

Armed with two Crockpots of vegetarian Minnesota Soup and two bags of “Cutie” oranges,
I met each and every audience member at the door. I introduced myself, slipped them an orange, “cuz there’s a lot of scurvy going around” and pointed them to the soup. I urged them to “Eat! Eat!” bringing out my Jewish Mother in a man’s body instincts. I made a connection. Ice Broken.

I flew through the presentation without the need to dodge any rotten tomatoes. The spectators was estimated to be from 55-60, (which is a Super Bowl crowd for Durango.) 

Special shout out to my neighbor Tanya Spielberg who filmed the talk and fellow Member of the Tribe Nadine who shot the photos. 

Here it is on YouTube: 

Read all about Minnesota Soup:

Last photo:

Everyone except my father (standing in the middle) were murdered in the Holocaust. Yes, there’s four children in the family photo too. 

Get the word out, the Holocaust happened. Nick Fuentes and his ilk are wrong. Humanity can and should do better than this.

Let’s perform more acts of Tikunn Olam (repair the world) and less acts of death and destruction.


  1. Thank you, Jeff. That picture of a happy family, knowing only your father survived the Holocaust, is tragically sad. Every idiot who tries to deny that the Holocaust happened should have to spend a long time staring at that picture - that family a tiny part of 6 million Jews slaughtered. If Jesus had been living then, since he was born, lived, and died a Jew, they'd have killed Him too. Horrorific evil.

  2. I like how you overcame your fear of speaking in public. I made myself recently stand up and give a 5 minute talk to help round out all the male speakers - there was a frantic email appeal the evening before - I mostly read from my notes. It was such a positive experience that I'm willing to do it again, but will have more notice. If we step outdie our comfort zone every once in a while it helps us grow and develop confidence. Bravo.

  3. More power to ya. Knew you’d make it through. Thank you for spreading the word and breaking the ice! Your parents are so proud of you!!