Q&A: Meet Ariel Grubbs-Guttman, HHC’s Beacons of Humanity Chair

Ariel Grubbs-Guttman is named after her grandmother’s cousin, Ari, one of the estimated 1.5 million children killed in the Shoah. Her existence is a testament to the resilience of her grandparents and the resilience of the Jewish people to start over after experiencing genocide.

As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, Ariel is an ardent supporter of the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center’s mission and serves as the Beacons of Humanity Chair. Beacons of Humanity is a donor society that connects community members to HHC’s important mission of ensuring the lessons of the Holocaust inspire action today. In her role as chair, Ariel leads the Beacons of Humanity program while serving as a top ambassador for HHC.  

“We must not only remember the horrors, acts of resistance, and remarkable acts of kindness by righteous gentiles during the Shoah, we must also learn and act to ensure xenophobic hatred does not continue to occur,” Ariel says.

The Holocaust & Humanity Center is deeply grateful to Ariel for her work and commitment to our vital mission. Learn more about Ariel and her story.

Why do you feel such a close connection to the Holocaust & Humanity Center’s mission?

Ariel: As the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, the intergenerational trauma was woven into my life in intricate ways. We lit an extra Yahrtzeit (memorial) candle at holidays in remembrance of those who were forgotten, we would hear stories of our ancestors and their small towns in Poland, and we would listen with deference whenever our grandparents shared intimate details of their own family’s demise. We knew which questions we could not ask, and we were also told stories we wished we had not heard. The complexities of being a granddaughter of individuals that experienced unthinkable trauma is what has informed my own commitment to speaking out and standing up against hate. 

What responsibility do you feel to carry your family’s story forward?

Ariel: When my grandfather, Papa Simon, passed away in 2014, I remember the enormity that I felt as a beacon of history in his absence. I felt an overwhelming responsibility: to honor my ancestors’ stories and to continue to support organizations that are dedicated to preserving their history. This responsibility intensified when I became a mother in 2018, and again in 2020. My youngest child, Ava Miriam, was born into a time marked by great uncertainty. Ava was our bright light, and we chose to name her after another child victim of the Holocaust, my Papa Simon’s sister, Ita Miriam. My grandfather spoke of Ita Miriam with love, longing, and sadness. His last memory of her was after arriving at Auschwitz, standing in the selection line as the distance grew further and further. The memory of Ita Miriam lived on through Papa Simon’s stories, and they continue to live on through me.

My daughter, a member of the fourth generation born from Holocaust survivors, is a beacon of hope. Ava Miriam will have the chance to do all the things that Ita Miriam was denied. As a mother, each time I lovingly say her name, I am reminded of a little girl who was loved so deeply by her family. I have charged my daughter with the same responsibility that my mother bestowed upon me, and that her mother bestowed onto her: honor our history by not only telling their stories, but also by ensuring that never again will hatred consume our world. 

How can others ensure the lessons of the Holocaust inspire action today?

Ariel: Join me on my journey to work towards a safe world for our children. Supporting the Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center is a critical step in this journey, and you can do so by joining Beacons of Humanity. Whether you choose to become a Beacon or contribute separately, every gift matters and ensures Holocaust and humanity programming continues to inspire, transform, and inform for generations to come.

ABOUT THE NANCY & DAVID WOLF HOLOCAUST & HUMANITY CENTER

The Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center exists to ensure the lessons of the Holocaust inspire action today. Located at Cincinnati’s historic Union Terminal, HHC educates more than 200,000 community members through its educational initiatives, innovative digital and in-person programs, virtual tours and partnerships. For more information, visit www.holocaustandhumanity.org.