The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Rachel was born in a displaced persons camp in Munich, Germany in 1946. Rachel says, “My mother, Cesia Fromer and my father, Abe Fromer, both survivors of the Holocaust, studied the American Constitution as one would study the Bible. One of the proudest days of their lives and mine (I was 10) was the day we became naturalized citizens. We are so grateful for this country and the promise of a more perfect union for all people.”
Rachel joined the Facing History and Ourselves staff in 1991. Working with the Memphis Advisory Board, she provides leadership on implementing educational and community programming for the region. She also meets with representatives of schools and other organizations and plans, organizes, and participates in Facing History workshops, institutes, and other professional development activities for educators. Prior to coming to Facing History, she was director of the Jewish Student Union at Memphis State University, educational director of Beth Sholom Synagogue, regional director of the B’nai B’rith Youth Organization, and a casework associate with Family Service of Memphis. She received a B.S. in sociology and social work from Memphis State University and has studied at the University of Tennessee School of Social Work and Memphis State University’s Foundations of Education program.
Married to Stephen Shankman, the Federal Public Defender for the Western District of Tennessee, she is also the mother of two sons and the grandmother of Rebecca, Joshua and Adi. Ms. Shankman served as the first woman President of Beth Sholom Synagogue, has served on numerous boards and was a graduate of Leadership Memphis, Class of 1994. Rachel was selected to be listed in Who’s Who for the year 2000 and the recipient of the Women of Achievement Award in the category of initiative. In November 2004, she was awarded the Bishop Carroll T. Dozier Award for Peace and Justice from Christian Brothers University. Rachel was awarded the Hadassah Educator of the Year in August of 2010. Most recently Rachel was the recipient of the 2012 Ruby R. Wharton Outstanding Woman Award in the category of Race Relations.