Why I am a Docent: Deborah Tyner

Categories: Blog, Holocaust Voices

By: Deborah Tyner, Volunteer Docent – 

After I retired from being an Oakland County Circuit Court judge, I wanted to explore areas of interest to me and devote my energy to community service. Becoming a docent fulfilled both of my goals.

Since my years as a U of M student (where I majored in history and obtained a secondary teaching certificate), I have been interested in the origins of Holocaust and what individuals and society can do to prevent it from happening again. As an HMC docent, I can delve into personal issues of interest, and I can share that knowledge with others. No two tours are the same. I learn so much from the students, and I am always amazed by their insightful questions.

(Left to right) HMC CEO Rabbi Eli Mayerfeld, Richard Herman, HMC docent Judge Deborah Tyner, and speaker Dariusz Stola at the program Coming to Terms with the Holocaust in Poland: From Soul-Searching to Backlash. (Photo: Jerry Zolynsky)

Many things I experienced during my tenure on the bench relate to Holocaust study. During the sentencing process, I observed that most people have both good and bad personality traits, which affect their personal choices and actions. How choice affects individual, corporate, and governmental action (or inaction) is paramount to Holocaust study. On a personal level, each tour I conduct reinforces the importance of making good choices and taking responsibility for my actions.

When I enter the HMC, I become more reflective, appreciative, disturbed and in awe. I step outside my routine and reflect on how I can make the world a better place. During this challenging time, it helps me to listen to presentations by Holocaust survivors. It is inspirational how each of them coped with extraordinarily difficult circumstances.

I am grateful to serve as a docent, so I can assist others in understanding this evil, but complex period of history, and perhaps help prevent similar situations from ever occurring again.