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Holly Mandelkern is a poet, lecturer, librarian, and educator with a special interest in Holocaust studies. Holly grew up in Jacksonville, Florida, and graduated from Vanderbilt University with a degree in European history and from Florida State University with a graduate degree in library science. She traveled to Poland and Israel in 1991 to study Jewish resistance during the Holocaust, and, with other educators, took classes with some of the world’s leading Holocaust scholars. Inspired by the survivor, founder, and leader of the program, Vladka Meed, Holly taught about Jewish resistance and related topics for twenty years at the Summer Teachers Institute at the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center of Florida and at other locations in Winter Park, Florida. BENEATH WHITE STARS combines this history with her passion for poetry to tell the stories of those who resisted in a new way.
In October 2015 Holly completed the three year intensive Twelve Chairs Advanced Poetry Course. The winner of the 2016 Thomas Burnett Swann Award, Holly has published poetry in journals of the National Council of Teachers of English, the Florida State Poets’ Association, and the Gwendolyn Brooks Writers Association of Florida. Her most recent writing appears in Yeshiva University’s Spring 2016 PRISM: AN INTERDISCIPLINARY JOURNAL FOR HOLOCAUST EDUCATORS, which features her poetry about prominent survivor Roman Kent and a discussion of her process of writing historical poetry.
Holly speaks at many community, cultural, and religious events. After teaching Jewish Studies for twenty years at her synagogue, she currently serves on the Judaic Studies Advisory Board at the University of Central Florida.