School Named for Flora Singer

School Named for Flora Singer

Teacher, holocaust survivor, author, Potomac resident died in 2009.

— The Montgomery Board of Education will name a public elementary school after the late Flora M. Singer, a Holocaust survivor, Potomac resident and former teacher at Cabin John Middle and Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and Walt Whitman high schools.

Flora M. Singer Elementary School is scheduled to open this fall in Silver Spring.

“The first word is overwhelmed,” said Sandra Singer Landsman, Flora Singer’s daughter. “Needless to say, our entire family humbled and delighted.”

The Board of Education made its decision last week on May 8. The school will serve the Einstein High School area.

“It’s amazing how many lives my mother touched and now how many people the naming has touched. Some of the people on the naming committee were former students of hers,” Landsman said.

“Flora Singer’s life is an inspiring testament to the resilience and determination of the human spirit,” said U.S. Rep. Christopher Van Hollen in a letter of support to the school’s naming. “Flora Singer’s extraordinary life story and person qualities, commitment to education in Montgomery County, and dedication to teaching others about the origins and realities of the Holocaust warrant this.”

FLORA M. SINGER’S parents fled their homeland in Romania in the 1920s to escape rising anti-Semitism, settling in Belgium. Singer and her family were forced underground when Nazi Germany annexed Belgium in 1940.

They were hidden by a Benedictine monk for two years in Catholic convents in Belgium.

“My mother was not a vengeful person,” said Landsman. But Flora M. Singer said her best revenge against Hitler was having her children and grandchildren.

Singer’s granddaughter, a photographer, recently photographed the reunion of her mother, Landsman, with her grandmother’s rescuers in Belgium.

Singer’s memoir, “Flora: I was but a Child,” was published in June 2007. The book brought together stories and memories that Singer used throughout her life to teach about the history of the Holocaust.

Flora Singer wrote: “This story is a tribute to my dear mother, Fani Mendelovits, whose love and tenacity saved me and my two sisters, Charlotte and Betty, from arrest and probable death at the hands of the Nazi occupiers in Belgium. This book is dedicated to her and to the many people — Belgian, French and German — who went out of their way, risking their lives to help us live through the Holocaust. …

“This story is also dedicated to my family members who did not survive. I will never forget them.”

Singer came to New York when she was 16 years old and worked as a seamstress before studying stenography. She earned her bachelor’s and master’s degrees in French at the University of Maryland and taught foreign language at numerous county public schools.

At the University of Maryland, anti-Semitic fliers denying the Holocaust were placed on her car.

“She felt compelled to share all that she experienced and witnessed,” said her husband Jack Singer at a Potomac Chamber of Commerce awards ceremony in 2007 when Flora Singer was named Potomac’s Citizen of the Year.

Singer’s former colleague and friend Sue Shotel said they met in 1981 as teachers at Einstein High School, when Singer approached her with an idea.

“She requested that she visit my social studies classes during “Sensitivity Awareness Day” and tell the children about her life struggles as a small girl in Belgium,” according to Shotel. “Little did I know the impact she would have on my life. She opened my world to events that I knew little about — and by telling her story to my students, she challenged me to learn more about why some do the unthinkable while others risk their lives to save another simply because it is the right thing to do.”