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A Turkish Student, a Holocaust Survivor, and Israel

On November 11, 2011, Gülin "Eva" Geloğulları met Paul Kessler at the Corner Bakery in the West End District of downtown Dallas.

They were complete strangers who struck up a conversation over their identical menu choices. Paul is Jewish and a Holocaust survivor from Slovakia; Eva was raised in the Muslim religion, and is from Turkey. There are years between their ages. Yet, this chance meeting led to a conversation that has lasted four years.

Eva was taking classes at El Centro Community College to improve her English. She was studying philosophy and religion hoping to understand, “why people cause violence through religion.” Paul Kessler was struggling with the news coming out of Israel and was surprised to meet someone so open minded and devoid of judgment about others. He said, “Her perspective seemed unusual for people from her part of the world. It was refreshing.” He encouraged her to visit the Museum, which she did.

She heard Paul tell his story of survival to schoolchildren, and she heard him reiterate the lessons of the Holocaust--the potential impact of hatred and prejudice.

Over the next four years, they stayed in touch via the internet. He’d send articles about the Holocaust, Israel or other trending news. She published a near daily journalistic blog. She minored in both women's and gender studies, and merchandising as part of her master's degree. She wrote her
Master’s thesis on fashion and film. She earned a Master’s degree from the University of North Texas in 2015.

Early on she sent an email to Paul asking his opinion on her applying to receive a Rotary Global Grant to study abroad. She said that if she got the grant, she would apply to Tel Aviv University in Israel and earn a second Master’s Degree in Conflict Resolution and Mediation. Paul said, “Of course you should. I will even write you a letter of recommendation.”

Eva won the $30,500 grant and arrived in Israel on October 9, 2015. She’s a little homesick for Dallas.

“I met my soul in Israel. Israel was my soul. I love its chaos, yet many are willing to make it better and peaceful."
Read Eva’s blog at: