Hi, my name is… Ruth Rotkowitz.
I have lived in Peoria for 12 years and I love it because… It was an easy decision to make to move to warm weather, plenty of sunshine, and being close to family. My husband I were snowbirds from New Jersey for our first three years here when we decided to move to Peoria permanently because we visited often and really enjoyed our time here.

My family is… I’ve been married to my husband, Irv, for almost 52 years. We have two adult children, both living in California. My sister and her family are here in Scottsdale. My mother is 97 and lives in Scottsdale as well. My father passed away a few years ago. My parents are both from Vienna and are survivors of the Holocaust. Both were able to escape the Nazis, eventually finding their way to New York, where they met.

A typical day in my life includes… A lot of coffee. I like to get out and walk most days. I’m a retired English teacher and am now a published author. I have written two fiction books: “Escaping the Whale” and a prequel called “The Whale Surfaces.” The books follow a New York guidance counselor, who is a child of Holocaust survivors, as she attempts to appear normal to the world while concealing the inner demons that plague her and constitute her legacy of inherited trauma. I also have a blog, ruthswhale.com/blog, that features interviews with Holocaust survivors.

One thing I cannot live without is… Books. I’ve loved books my whole life. I can’t imagine not having a book to read at all times.

When I was younger, I wanted to be… A writer. And lucky for me, I still do!

The song I would sing at Karaoke night is… “Ain’t Too Proud To Beg.”

The one person who motivates me is… My daughter. She is a very compassionate and remarkable person, extremely creative and open-minded.

The last thing that made me laugh out loud was… Andy Borowitz in “The New Yorker.”

The perfect day… My perfect day starts with coffee, of course! And then time outside in Arizona’s beautiful sunshine, reading a good book.

My life is… Just the way it should be. I’m very fortunate to have a happy marriage, healthy and successful children, and time to spend with my mother.
The best gift I’ve ever received was… There are so many ways to think about this question, but I’d have to say the birth of my children.

My dream vacation would be… Cruising with friends, most likely to Europe. I also love Israel.

The best piece of advice I’ve ever received… To follow your heart.

My favorite local nonprofit is… The Phoenix Holocaust Association (PHA). After moving to Arizona, I joined PHA, a unique, regional resource for Holocaust education and remembrance.

PHA promotes human dignity by inspiring people to speak out and act against hate, bigotry, intolerance, and discrimination. As a child of Holocaust survivors and a representative of the organization, I give talks throughout the Phoenix area on Holocaust-related books and programs. I am also one of the volunteers involved with “Holocaust by Bullets,” a community-wide education program at ASU’s Hayden Library now through April 17.

“Holocaust by Bullets: 15 Years of Investigation” presents the results of extensive research throughout Eastern Europe. The research underscores that “Holocaust by Bullets” is a precursor and model for mass murder crimes today. The exhibit showcases the painstaking research by Yahad-In Unum, uncovering the step-by-step nature of the crimes committed against Jews and Roma by the mobile Nazi killing units. Most people don’t know this part of the Holocaust history and it is so important that we continue to educate ourselves about this and other genocides so that they never happen again. PHA (phxha.com) does tremendous work in our community throughout the year, honoring the legacies of the survivors through outreach, support, gatherings, and education programs.