Eva Lassman had an important story to tell. She had survived the Holocaust, but remained quiet about her experience for nearly four decades. In 1983, she was inspired to open up.
“I decided to use my experience of pain and suffering to promote understanding and tolerance in lieu of hate,” she wrote in a 2006 letter to The Spokesman-Review.
Once she began to share, the floodgates were open. Lassman was passionate about her crusade to fight hatred in all its forms and had a profound impact on the Spokane community. She worked with Gonzaga Law Professor Emeritus George Critchlow to help found the Gonzaga Institute for Hate Studies. She was also honored with the first Take Action Against Hate Award in 2009, in recognition for her work to combat hate. She touched many lives through her advocacy, and upon her passing in 2011, a memorial fund was established by her son Joel and his wife, Rosann Lassman. The Eva Lassman Memorial Student Research Award provides a stipend for a student research project in Hate Studies to combat hatred and promote respect, human rights, and peace.
For the nearly 60 donors who made gifts of support, it was as much about remembering and showing love for Eva as it was about furthering her charge to fight hatred in all its forms.
“I am blessed to have had the opportunity to call Eva Lassman my dear friend. Eva was an inspiration to all those that had the good fortune of meeting or knowing her. Eva spent the last 28 years of her life sharing and educating all who would listen to her story of survival from the Holocaust and the pain and suffering that millions of Jewish people experienced at the hands of the Nazis. She wanted to promote understanding and tolerance instead of hatred. For so many individuals, Eva was a beacon of hope, love, tolerance, understanding, kindness and acceptance of all mankind in the face of injustice and hatred. I have supported The Eva Lassman Memorial Student Research Award because it is critical for future generations to have the opportunity to study hate and to better understand the implications of hate in our world, as well as our collective responsibility to combat hatred at every turn.” – Bobbie League (’70)
For us, supporting the Eva Lassman Memorial Student Research Award was an easy decision. We had the pleasure of hearing Eva speak a few times and her story is truly amazing. When she was honored by the University, we took our daughter to the banquet. She looked to Eva as a heroine and a role model. She even asked for her autograph! Needless to say, her story made a huge impression on our family and by giving to this fund, we hope her story will never be forgotten.” – Heidi Wohl
“Few residents of the Inland Northwest have left as great a legacy for us to follow than the life and works of Eva Lassman. Her words and actions were a powerful force for social justice and equality throughout the Inland Northwest for years. Her compassion, devotion and love for humanity changed the hearts and minds of many thousands of people — especially the children that she visited within the area schools. Eva’s philosophy is best summarized by her own words, which were featured in an editorial in The Spokesman-Review on February 15, 2011, marking her passing: ‘When we are able to instill in people a desire to respect and be tolerant of all humanity, we may eventually have peace. If not, we will continue to experience the inhumanity of war and terrorism, and the deaths of children and other innocent victims of violence.’”– Tony Stewart
“Eva and our family met through Temple Beth Shalom about 30 years ago when Eva was randomly joined with our family as our adoptive grandma. Such began an exceptionally loving relationship with Eva and her whole family. She was always “Bubbe (Grandma) Eva” to my children (now grown). Her grandchildren and my son and daughter spent many happy times together throughout the years. Eva’s story is one that must be told and retold, even more earnestly now, after her passing and in the current politically divisive era, in order to remind all of us about the travesty of human suffering that accompanies hatred (organized or personal). Eva was deeply committed, not to forgiving, nor to forgetting, but to remembering the lessons of the Holocaust. The fund endowed in her memory will in some small way, ensure that her life’s lesson endures.” – Meryl R. Gersh (’08), PT, Ph.D
“The legacy of Eva Lassman continues long after she left us. I was lucky enough to meet Eva when Gonzaga brought the Anne Frank Traveling Exhibit to Spokane. She joined in our efforts to teach middle school and high school teachers about the Holocaust by sharing her personal story of survival. Thereafter, Eva became a personal friend who also became friends with all of my friends. She came to my classes and spoke of her commitment to fighting hate in the Northwest through education. My life was forever impacted by knowing this courageous woman. I keep her close by thinking of her often. My donation to the Eva Lassman Memorial Student Research Award was just one of the ways she can be remembered.” – Jerri Shepard
If you would like to add your support to the Eva Lassman Memorial Student Research award, visit gonzaga.edu/give. Learn more about the 2017 recipient, Marnie Rorholm, and her project in this Gonzaga News story.