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ADL’s Women’s Initiative and Young Leaders & Professionals Host Righteous Gentile’s Daughter

  • May 15, 2014

Jeannie Opdyke Smith, daughter of righteous gentile Irene Gut Opdyke,is the keynote speaker at two Anti-Defamation League events on May 20 for Houston area women and young adult professionals as part of the ADL’s Women’s Initiative and Young Leaders & Professionals programming.

Jeannie’s mother, Irene Gut Opdyke, single-handedly saved the lives of 12 Jewish men, women and children by hiding them in the home of a Nazi Major.   Working as a Nazi officer’s housekeeper, she concealed them in the basement of his home.   She had to supply food and provisions for them, and even continued to do so after witnessing the hanging in a public square of others who had sheltered Jews.  Her 12 friends almost certainly would have been killed when they were discovered by the Major, had she not acted selflessly and bravely.   And this is only part of Irene Opdyke’s remarkable, inspiring story, which also was chronicled in an autobiography entitled In My Hands: Memories of a Holocaust Rescuer and in a Broadway play entitled “Irena’s Vow.”

Jeannie Opdyke Smith will speak at ADL’s Women’s Initiative Breakfast on May 20 at 8:00 a.m. to 9:15 a.m. at The Westin Galleria Hotel. The Initiative, led by Kelli Cohen Fein, Judith Finkel and Sherry Bender Levy, unites diverse women professionals in ADL’s efforts to promote respect and challenge bigotry through  dialogue and action.  Audrey Fersten, Susan Knight, Vicki Merwin and Sallie Teninbaum are the program chairs for the Women’s Initiative Breakfast with Jeannie Smith.   RSVPs are mandatory by May 15 to Larry Ting at  Include your name, address, phone and Email to RSVP. Seating capacity is limited.  Attendees are asked to bring new or gently used books to be donated to a book drive benefitting Alief High School students.

Ms. Smith will also speak at an evening event for young adults between 25-40 as part of ADL’s Young Leaders & Professionals.  The program will be held from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the United Way of Greater Houston, 50 Waugh Drive, Houston, TX  77007.  RSVPs are also mandatory for this event at

The Young Leaders & Professionals Steering Committee co-chairs are Nicole Soussan and Allison Wilden, and Steering Committee members include Kent Altsuler, Leanne Baumel, Robert Carlton, Grant Cohen, Jenny Fink, Mazelle Krasoff, Merissa Littell, Ben Proler, Rebecca Putterman, Yighal Saghian, Jenny Selber, Steve Simon, Rebecca Weiner, and Sarah Weingarden.

If you have questions about either of these events, call ADL’s Southwest Regional Office at 713-627-3490.