John Pregulman and Amy Israel Pregulman have taken 943 photographs of Holocaust survivors all across the world.
And they’re not even close to being finished.
This fantastic couple who wed in September of 2016 (and have six children between them––the youngest being 11) have been life-long supporters of the JCC––Amy even worked at the JCC in Memphis as the Director of Cultural Arts at the MJCC.
The J is humbled to have had the chance to interview the Pregulmans and learn all about their heroic endeavors to document, and remember, Holocaust survivors.
How did you both become involved with the JCC?
John Pregulman: We have been part of the JCC world all of our lives. Amy grew up at the JCC in Memphis and I went to the JCC in Chattanooga. We have been part of the JCC in Denver for over ten years as the three oldest and youngest child have all been to Ranch Camp.
What are your full-time careers? How did you get involved with photography?
JP: I am in the Real Estate business, a financial advisor, and investment banker. Amy runs our nonprofit called KAVOD full time as Executive Director. I have been involved with photography since high school and my interest started at school.
We read the fantastic Denver Post article that came out in January. How did you start the process of photographing Holocaust survivors?
JP: I started photographing Holocaust Survivors five years ago when a friend who was the Director of the Illinois Holocaust Museum asked me to come take some photos of Survivors. I did 65 photos in three days and became enthralled with these courageous, positive, and happy people. He told me that it was also important to the Survivors to have their photos taken because their biggest fear is being forgotten. I decided to continue taking photos across the US and in the process met Amy in Memphis. We have been to 40 US cities, as well as Prague, Krakow, and Tokyo and have now done 943 photos. We will continue to do so as long as there are Survivors. There is never any charge for the photos. We simply give them to the Survivors and their families and the organizations that help us set up the photos. We have photographed most of the Survivors in Denver.
How was KAVOD born? How did you and Amy go about creating the organization?
JP: KAVOD was born in November 2015 after we had been in a Survivor’s home in Orlando. After the photos she offered me something to eat but when we went to her kitchen she had very little food. When I asked her what happened to her food she replied that she had to fix her AC that month and had used her grocery money for that so she is just doing without. Amy and I found that unconscionable and did some due diligence and found that 30-35% of the 80,000 Survivors in the US are living at or near poverty levels. We decided we had to do something and created KAVOD to give confidential, emergency aid to Survivors in poverty in the US.
What has been your biggest takeaway from your honorable work with Holocaust survivors?
JP: 95% of them are positive, happy, accomplished people who haven’t let their experience during the war keep them from creating new lives. It’s about overcoming adversity and being positive. Not letting obstacles stop you from achieving your goals.
How has the JCC aided/supported your connection to the Denver Jewish community?
JP: The JCC has been a great place for the kids as far as day care, activities and camp and I work out there. It’s an important part of the Jewish Community where we can go and feel welcomed and comfortable.
If someone were wanting to be involved/give to KAVOD, how might they go about that?
JP: Our website is: www.kavodensuringddignity.com. They can donate there or send us a check at 225 S. Kremeria St. Denver, CO 80224. 100% of all donations go to the Survivors. KAVOD doesn’t take any administrative fee out of the donations.
The Pregulmans are a special kind of family who have dedicated their lives to ensuring no Survivor feels forgotten. Their generosity, selflessness, and empathy is a beautiful addition to each and every JCC community and we feel incredibly thankful to have them in ours. To read more about their endeavors, please check out the following news articles: