Christa Post began handing out a stack of identification cards that she randomly picked from the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C. to her fifth-grade students four years ago, which is when the students also noticed that among the people described on the cards was a married couple named Frieda and Mendel Felman.
The Coal Mountain Elementary School teacher handed out the covered cards, which contained the picture, name and short story of a person impacted during the Holocaust, and she assigned students to read them, take notes and raise their hands when finished. As students raised their hands they were paired together to compare stories.
As the kids began the assignment, one pair came up to Post after realizing the people on the cards they received were married. They all thought it was a cool coincidence that the one couple within the cards had been matched together.
But then the next year, the cards got randomly matched again. And then the next year.
She began to doubt that it could be just a coincidence.
“I still don’t understand it,” Post said. “I can’t wrap my head around how this happens every year.”
After the third year, she decided she would try to reach out to the couple if they were still alive to tell them about the strange phenomenon happening in her classroom. Some searching online led her to their obituaries where she found they had died about 20 years ago. She did find, however, that Frieda and Mendel had four children, and she reached out to one of their sons, Boris Feldman, who works as an attorney in California.
She sent him an email, explaining that his parents cards had gotten matched up for the last three years in her classroom and how much Frieda and Mendel means to her students.
Before they got matched up again that third time, Post explained to her students that she noticed the cards kept getting matched up, and it quickly became something her students looked forward to — waiting to see if the two would get matched up again.
“I shuffled them in front of the kids,” Post said. “They could see that it’s random, and I give them their book closed, face down and cover everything. I always tell them, ‘Whoever you get, you’re not saying anything.’ It was probably toward the end …. and I match these two kids up and they just start squealing.”
“We have them! We have them!” she remembers them yelling in excitement.
All of the other kids rushed over to them to confirm that it was true. Mr. and Mrs. Felman found each other again.
Post said they all slowly fell in love with the couple that they had never met. She remembers one boy who walked to the bus that day reciting the couple’s story on the cards from memory, and one student created a game about the couple for a math assignment.
“One of my girls made this incredibly sweet game where they start off together and then in the war they get separated, so they go on different paths,” Post said. “And then the goal of the game is to have Mr. and Mrs. Felman find each other again.”
She explained all of this in her email to Boris, and when she finally sent it in February of last year, she received an email back from him just five minutes later.
He couldn’t believe what she had shared with him — that the cards had found each other and, even more, that his parents had an impact on a classroom full of kids on the other side of the country. Boris shared the email with the rest of his family.
“OK, guys, this is incredible. Don’t get all weepy on me,” he began the email before sharing what Post had told him.
After that, Post said his older brother, Fred, reached out to her about a book that he was writing to share his parent’s story and the stories of other families during the time of the war.
“In the book, his parents get separated, and he and his older brother, Boris, are with his mother,” Post said. “His mom and dad ended up dealing with work camps and literally dodging Russian soldiers and Nazis …. Then they ended up finding each other.”
He had been working on the book for close to 10 years and was nearly finished, but he couldn’t quite figure out how to end the story. That was until, of course, he read Post’s email.
Fred felt the small story of the fifth-grade class in Cumming, Georgia sharing his parent’s story and of his parents continuing to find each other “even in the afterlife” was the perfect way to end the book.
He added Post’s email and their thoughts as an excerpt in his memoir, “The Story Keeper: Weaving the Threads of Time and Memory,” which he published on Holocaust Remembrance Day in January.
He also explained in the excerpt that Boris’ wife, Robin, even shared that she had just been reading about the halachic view in the Jewish faith the day before Post’s email. The view says that the bond between spouses is so strong that “they continue to connect to each other, even when one has passed away.”
The story has stuck with everyone in the Feldman family, and they each have grown closer to Post and her kids in Cumming. Fred and Boris continue to keep in touch with Post even a year later, and she said the kids constantly ask about them.
One of her kids from last year still messages her on ItsLearning from time to time, and she said he still asks her, “Have you talked to Mr. Feldman lately?”
Fred sent Post six copies of the book to share with her colleagues and family and to read the excerpt to the kids, who she said are all incredibly excited to be included in the memoir. She wants to continue the relationship between the Feldman family and her kids for years to come, and Fred is already planning a visit to see the kids when the pandemic is over.
“It was fated for our lives to intertwine,” Fred said.