This week we are pleased to cast a spotlight on the Holocaust Resource Center’s (HRC) 2023 Sophia Veffer Upstander Award winners, Samantha White and Dr. Iris Danziger.
The Sophia Veffer Upstander Award was created by the HRC in 2018, in honor of local Holocaust survivor, Sophia Veffer, who has dedicated her life to creating a more just world. A dedicated speaker for decades through HRC’s Speaker’s Bureau, Sophia encourages students to act as global citizens, to assist those who need help and to stand up in the face of adversity.
Samantha (Sam) White and Iris Danziger exemplify Sophia’s messaging by standing up for others while promoting equality, social justice and human rights. Sam is a Staff Attorney at the WNY Law Center leading the School Discipline Project which provides pro bono representation for Buffalo Public School students. She also works as an Attorney of Counsel at the Law Office of Stephanie Adams, where she maintains a small private practice. Sam serves as a Trustee for Temple Beth Zion, Chairs the Social Action Committee, and recently joined the Sisterhood Board. Additionally, she serves on the board for Kadimah Scholars at Park School. Sam is also the first Jewish President for the Minority Bar Association of WNY. In 2022, she became the Founding Chair of the Empire State Legal Diversity Career Fair–a unique collaboration between the Minority Bar Assn., Erie County Bar Assn. and UB Law School. She has also volunteered countless hours with None Like You Community Outreach and is a member of the 5/14 Survivors Fund Steering Committee. Sam’s commitment to making the world a better place is undeniable. She fights to change laws, to create opportunities for others, to beautify neighborhoods, and to build community.
Dr. Iris Danziger is a Board-certified Otolaryngologist (Ear, Nose & Throat) and Assistant Clinical Professor at the Jacobs School of Medicine. Iris serves on the Executive Committee of the Erie County Medical Society and the DoctHers Committee at the Medical School. In the Jewish community, she is President of Hillel of Buffalo, Vice-President of Temple Beth Tzedek, and serves on the Board of Governors for the Buffalo Jewish Federation. Dr Danziger is the co-creator and facilitator for the STOP the BLEED workshops in Greater Buffalo. In partnership with Dr. Philip Glick, Iris organized numerous STOP the BLEED (StB) workshops that enabled over a thousand members of our community to learn how to save lives when emergency level injury occurs before medical emergency support arrives. Dr. Danziger has expanded this training to include recognition of the signs of an opioid overdose and administration of Narcan, CPR techniques, how to administer an AED, and how to identify a life-threatening allergic reaction and administer an EpiPen.
Iris is a descendent of Holocaust survivors; her parents survived the Lodz ghetto, Ravensbrook, Buchenwald, Mauthausen, Auschwitz and Bergen Belson. She has understood at a deep level how antisemitism manifests itself and how hate can impact generations of Jews and other people and has turned those lessons into lessons to help others survive. Dr. Danziger stated, “Instead of seeing me as a child of Holocaust survivors, see me as helping others survive. I am here to help others do that too… There is only one thing more tragic than a death and that’s a death that could have been prevented.”