407-645-5933 ext. 236 marisa.west@shalomorlando.org
A Conversation With My Mom: Bernice Lerner & Ruth Mermelstein (nee Rachel Genuth)

A Conversation With My Mom: Bernice Lerner & Ruth Mermelstein (nee Rachel Genuth)

Before the word “Holocaust” entered modern parlance, Bernice Lerner learned about her parents’ wartime experiences. But before she learned what they had suffered and endured, she heard stories about their childhoods and post-war years, which seemed adventure-filled. Of course, the ruptures in their lives were more complicated and tragic than she could imagine as a child. In fact, it has taken decades of research for her to gain an understanding of what happened to members of her family. Lerner felt compelled her to write a book – All the Horrors of War which answers the question of how—against all odds—her mother survived.

Not only does Bernice tell her Mom’s story, but she details the parallel journey of a Liberator.

On April 15, 1945, Brigadier H. L. Glyn Hughes entered Bergen-Belsen for the first time. Waiting for him were 10,000 unburied corpses and 60,000 living prisoners, starving and sick. One month earlier, 15-year-old Rachel Genuth (Bernice’s Mom) arrived at Bergen-Belsen; deported with her family from Sighet, Transylvania, in May of 1944, Rachel had by then already endured Auschwitz, the Christianstadt labor camp, and a forced march through the Sudetenland. In All the Horrors of War, Bernice Lerner follows both Hughes and Genuth as they move across Europe toward Bergen-Belsen in the final, brutal year of World War II.

Join this special event where Bernice will introduce you to her incredible mom, who will be happy to answer your questions.

Daughter Rochy Miller and Granddaughter Kerryn Letman of Holocaust Survivor Lea Leibowitz

Daughter Rochy Miller and Granddaughter Kerryn Letman of Holocaust Survivor Lea Leibowitz

Rochy Miller, the author of “Not Just a Survivor – a portrait of my mother”, is the daughter of a Holocaust survivor.

This memoir of her mother’s story is both a chilling narrative of an exceptional woman’s life journey, and a personal reflection on being the child of a Holocaust survivor.

Drawing on her mother’s many stories and the abundant written and recorded information she provided, the book delivers a harrowing personal insight – often in her mother’s own words – into life in the Kovno Ghetto, and the five concentration camps in which she was incarcerated.

But the book is also a celebration of the life of an amazingly optimistic woman who rose above her horrendous experiences, emerged with her humanity intact, and went on to dedicate her life to ensuring the stories of the Holocaust are perpetuated, and the heroism of its survivors are honored.

“Now when we come to talk about heroism, when we talk about heroism and courage and the rest of it, I want to emphasize that every hour of our life, to live an extra hour under those circumstances, this was courage, this was heroism. There is always active and passive, and we were denied the active. We couldn’t do anything to our murderers, to our enemies, but at least we tried to defy them, by trying to want to live”. Lea Leibowitz

Teacher PD: No Asylum – The Jewish Refugee Crisis

Teacher PD: No Asylum – The Jewish Refugee Crisis

One of the significant impacts of Kristallnacht and other instances of Nazi aggression in 1938: an intensifying refugee crisis. We will explore how countries around the world responded to thousands of European Jews trying to escape the danger of Nazi Germany. The goal of this PD will be to provide teachers with different tools to help students to think deeply about the rights and responsibilities of governments and individuals to respond to events that take place within the borders of other countries, and hear the testimonies of Holocaust survivors describing their experiences as they tried to escape from Nazi Germany before World War II.

Teacher PD: Holocaust Education Week – The New State of Florida Mandate

Teacher PD: Holocaust Education Week – The New State of Florida Mandate

This year, the Florida State Legislature passed legislation that adds to the existing Holocaust Mandate. The new legislation designates the second week in November as Holocaust Education Week. This week was chosen to commemorate Kristallnacht, also called “Night of Broken Glass” as windows of thousands of Jewish places of business were smashed and over 1,000 synagogues were burned to the ground in Germany and Austria. Many Jews were murdered, and others were sent to concentration camps where they had to endure hard labor.

With schools starting in a remote or hybrid setting, we have adapted some student-centered teaching strategies for use online. This week our professional development for teachers is set up to ensure meaningfully learning about the Holocaust through best practices, newly designed resources, and engagement with survivor testimony and primary source study. We will review digital tools and resources as well as how to tailor a lesson plans that meets the Holocaust Mandate and uses standards that align with your courses.

Teacher PD: From Democracy to Dictatorship -Hitler’s Consolidation of Power

Teacher PD: From Democracy to Dictatorship -Hitler’s Consolidation of Power

Often, students have the misconception that Hitler took over Germany in a revolutionary coup which leads to an oversimplification and lack of understanding as to why the German people appeared embrace him as a dictator. In this professional development we will review and analyze the steps that were taken by Hitler and the Nazi party following his appointment as Chancellor in order to dissolve the democracy of Germany and solidify his position as a dictator. Throughout this presentation we will demonstrate best methods to use when creating lessons and activities that will help students to demonstrate their depth of knowledge through evaluation of various primary source documents and testimony. We will provide complete resources and activities that adhere to state standards and that can be used across multiple disciplines.

Florida Standards Included – (But Not Limited To)

Social Studies -SS.912.W.7.5, SS.912.W.7.6, SS.912.W.7.8, SS.912.C.4.1,SS.912.C.4.3, SS.912.W.1.1, SS.912.A.1.4, SS.912.C.2.2, SS.912.C.2.3, SS.912.C.2.4, SS.912.C.2.13
ELA – LAFS.910.RH.1.1, LAFS.910.RH.1.2, LAFS.910.RH.1.3, LAFS.910.RH.2.4, LAFS.910.RH.2.5, LAFS.910.RH.3.9

Holocaust Survivor Dr. Mordecai Paldiel

Holocaust Survivor Dr. Mordecai Paldiel

Join us for a live virtual conversation with Holocaust Survivor Dr. Mordecai Paldiel. Dr. Mordecai Paldiel is a leading scholar on the rescue of Jews during the Holocaust. Born in Antwerp, Belgium, in 1937, to Jewish parents who had moved there from Poland – during the German invasion of Belgium, in May 1940, the family fled to France. Originally settled in St. Gaudin, southwestern France, the family, then known as Wajsfeld, moved to various parts of occupied France. In September 1943, with the help of the Catholic cleric Simon Gallay, the family, then numbering parents and six children, fled to Switzerland, where they stayed until the war’s end — then returned to Belgium. In 1950, the family moved to the USA, and settled in Brooklyn.

In 1962, Mordecai Paldiel made Aliyah and studied at the Hebrew University, Jerusalem, where he earned a BA degree in Economics and Political Science. He then furthered his studies at Temple University, Philadelphia, where he earned an MA and PhD in Holocaust Studies, under the tutorship of Professor Franklin H. Littell.

Returning to Israel, Paldiel was nominated director of the Righteous Among the Nations Department, at Yad Vashem – the country’s national Holocaust Memorial, a post he occupied from 1982 to 2007. During that 24-year stint, under Paldiel’s stewardship, some 18,000 non-Jewish men and women from various countries were awarded the prestigious honor of “Righteous Among the Nations,” by the Yad Vashem Holocaust Memorial, for their role in saving Jews from the Nazis at considerable risks to themselves.

Paldiel is currently teaching, in New York: at Yeshiva University-Stern College, New York – courses in Holocaust & Rescue, and History of Zionism; as well as Touro college, in Modern European History. He also taught at Drew University, in Madison, New Jersey, and Richard Stockton College, Pomona, New Jersey. Paldiel also lectures before interesting groups on topics dealing with the rescue of Jews.

Dr. Paldiel has published 12 books and numerous articles on the rescue of Jews during the Holocaust, including the following books: “The Path of the Righteous: Gentile Rescuers of Jews during the Holocaust”; “Saving the Jews: Amazing Stories of Men and Women Who Defied the Final Solution”; “Churches and the Holocaust: Unholy Teaching, Good Samaritans & Reconciliation”; “Diplomat Heroes of the Holocaust”; “Saving One’s Own: Jewish Rescuers During the Holocaust”; “German Rescuers of Jews: Individuals versus the Nazi System.” “Righteous Gentiles: Israel’s Honoring of Rescuers of Jews;” and “Remembrance and Meaning: Dialogues and Thoughts on the Significance of Holocaust Rescuers.”

Dr. Mordecai Paldiel lives in Fort Lee, New Jersey.

Holocaust Survivor Peter Feigl

Holocaust Survivor Peter Feigl

Join us for a live virtual conversation with Holocaust Survivor Peter Feigl.

Peter Feigl (born Klaus Peter Feigl) was born on March 1, 1929, in Berlin, Germany. Peter and his family were assimilated secular members of middle-class Austrian society. Peter’s family moved to Prague in 1936 and then to Vienna in 1937 for reasons connected to his father’s work. Hoping to protect Peter from Nazi anti-Jewish policies, Peter’s parents had him baptized as a Catholic.

As the German occupation spread to Western Europe in 1940, the Feigl family first fled first to Belgium and then to France, where Peter was sent to live at a summer camp run by a charitable Catholic organization. During this time, Peter’s parents were arrested and eventually deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau on September 4, 1942.

Peter had no knowledge of his parents whereabouts, but on his own and with the help of many others, including Pastor André and Magda Trocmé in the Protestant village of Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, Peter was able to obtain false papers and eventually escape France for neutral Switzerland on May 22, 1944. Peter remained in Switzerland until he emigrated to the United States in 1946.

Join us as Paul Kutner interviews Peter to tell his harrowing story of escape and resiliency to survive.

Holocaust Survivor Renee Kann Siver

Holocaust Survivor Renee Kann Siver

Renée Kann Silver was born in 1931 in the Saarland. After a plebiscite in 1935 called for reunification with Germany, her family moved to France. Because they were of German origin, when the War broke out in France in May 1940, her family was interned in Gurs, but they were released once the Armistice was signed. They ended up in Villeurbanne, outside of Lyon, and then Renée and her younger sister, Edith, were taken to Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, but were housed separately, and unhappily. After a short time, Renée found her little sister and took the trains back to Villeurbanne alone. They went back to Le Chambon, but then were reunited with their family, obtained fake papers, and escaped to Switzerland.

“I would not be here if not for the Righteous Gentiles. These were people who did not hesitate for one second about what would happen to them if they were discovered hiding Jewish children,” Silver said. “Nobody had to tell them what to do, they were just human beings doing the right thing.”

Silver maintained that she never once lost hope and continued to pray for her family and France -the homeland that cast her family aside amid growing hatred of those not born in the country.

Renée Silver lives in Garden City, New York.

Documentary Film: Harbor from the Holocaust

Documentary Film: Harbor from the Holocaust

Join us for a virtual preview of the new PBS documentary, Harbor from the Holocaust, on Thursday, August 27 at 12 p.m. The documentary, which airs on September 8 at 10 p.m. on WUCF, chronicles the story of nearly 20,000 Jewish refugees who fled Nazi-occupied Europe during World War II, to the Chinese port city of Shanghai. Exploring the extraordinary relationship of these Jews and their adopted city of Shanghai, and in tragic contrast to those who could not escape, this is a Holocaust story of life. The screening will be followed by a live virtual conversation with:

Sigmund Tobias, Shanghai Survivor
Violet Du Feng, Director
Joanie Holzer Schirm, Author, My Dear Boy
Frank Xu, Shanghai historian

Register online at https://ovee.itvs.org/screenings/0g0mf

This event is hosted in partnership with WUCF.

Our virtual screenings take place via OVEE, a web-based service that allows participants to watch streaming media together and chat live in a virtual theater. All you need to participate is a computer, tablet or other device with a good internet connection. Before the event, we recommend you run a test to ensure OVEE works properly on your device.

Holocaust Survivors Max and Hanne Liebmann

Holocaust Survivors Max and Hanne Liebmann

Join us for a live virtual conversation with Holocaust Survivors Hanne and Max Liebmann. Johanna (Hanne) Hirsch was born November 28, 1924, in Karlsruhe, Germany. Her father, Max, a photographer, died in 1925. Her mother, Ella, perished in Auschwitz. Her aunt and her paternal grandmother, Babette, died in Gurs. Two aunts survived and eventually came to the United States.

Max Liebmann was born September 3, 1921, in Mannheim, Germany. He attended German school until 1938, but continued studying in a private business school, and pursued music. His father went to Greece in 1938 as Jews had difficulty working in Germany. Forced from Greece, he traveled to France, but was arrested and deported in 1944 never to return. Max’s mother perished in Auschwitz. His paternal grandmother, a French citizen, died in Nice, after Switzerland denied her entry.
On October 22, 1940, 6,504 Jews from the Baden, Palatinate and Saar regions of Germany —including Hanne and Max—were arrested, as part of Operation Bürckel, and deported to Gurs, a French-run concentration camp in the “free zone.”

In Gurs, latrines were collective, heat was nonexistent, the ground was muddy, and food was scarce. Disease and starvation were rampant. Yet, Hanne and Max met as she worked in an office with Max’s mother.

The Œuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE) “transferred” Hanne and Max from Gurs. Hanne immediately went to Le Chambon-sur-Lignon, but Max went to Talluyers, near Lyon, where he was denied false papers. He fled to Le Chambon, hid for three weeks and was given fake papers stating he was Alsatian “Charles Lang.” He escaped to Switzerland.
Hanne remained in Le Chambon for almost a year before going to Switzerland with fake papers saying she was Parisian “Anne-Marie Husser.”

Join us to hear their fascinating story of love and survival. Hanne and Max married on April 14, 1945, and have one daughter, one grandson and two great-granddaughters. The recently celebrated their 75th wedding anniversary.

Hanne and Max Liebmann live in Queens, New York.

About Our Interviewer:
Paul Kutner is a French teacher and Holocaust researcher. In 2012, he was a grant recipient from the French Embassy in the United States to incorporate history into his language classes. He has researched the rescues in Le Chambon-sur-Lignon and Dieulefit as well as the Vél d’Hiv roundup. He was the researcher and writer of the 2017 exhibit Conspiracy of Goodness at the Harriet and Kenneth Kupferberg Holocaust Center on the campus of CUNY-Queensborough Community College in New York City. He lives in Rockville, Maryland.