Joel Poremba, author of My Name is Staszek Surdel :The Improbable Holocaust Survival of Nathan Poremba, the Last Jew of Wieliczka, along with Henry Mikalsky, author of Torn Lilacs: A True WWII Story of Love, Defiance and Hope told the stories of their Holocaust survivor parents by writing award-winning books. The authors are interviewed and share how their parents’ stories inspired and impacted them.

Jerzy Wójcik


Joel Poremba is a business attorney with twenty-four years of litigation experience in both state and federal courts. He represents small and medium-sized companies in complex business disputes and handles insurance defense matters. Prior to this, Joel litigated against billion dollar insurance companies over breached disability policies. He is a graduate of Western State University, College of Law and the University of California, San Diego with a degree in political science.

He is the son of Holocaust survivor, Nathan Poremba. Stunned after hearing his father give his testimony to the Shoah Foundation Visual History Archive in 1998, it took 21 years and an inspiring trip to Israel for Joel to finally watch his father’s video testimony. Determined, Joel subsequently sat down and further interviewed his father about the details of his Holocaust survival.

Joel Poremba is an author with a passion for helping his father to tell his story of resistance. Making good on his bar mitzvah speech to one day tell his father’s story, My Name Is Staszek Surdel explores Nathan Poremba’s life and survival in Poland before, during and after the war.

Henry Michalski was born in Kazakhstan and came to America with his Polish parents in 1949. In 1968, he began teaching history in the Napa public schools and at Congregation Beth Sholom s Sunday school. Now retired, he and his wife, Lynn, have visited Israel numerous times. Raised in Illinois, Donna Dover Mendelsohn came to California in 1961, settling in Napa in 1998 with her husband, David. As cofounder of the Jewish Historical Society of Napa Valley and past president of Congregation Beth Sholom, Donna coordinated the exhibit Jews of the Valley and the book Under the Vine and the Fig Tree by Lin Weber.

Jerzy Wójcik

When: November 15, 2022 at 7 PM Eastern

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