Every year, the Holocaust Education and Reflection (HEAR) Club at the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy in suburban Philadelphia creates a special school legacy project, with the goal of keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive. One year, it was a flower garden dedicated to the children of the Holocaust. Another year, it was butterflies stenciled on the walls of the school stairwells, commemorating the poem The Butterfly, written by a young Holocaust victim, with the iconic line “I never saw another butterfly.”And for 2017-2018, it is the Cattle Car of Dreams. At first, the project’s title seems a bit jarring. How could a vehicle that transported Jews to their deaths, obliterating their hopes for the future, be described as a “cattle car of dreams”? [Read more…]
By Marie Miguel
There are certainly more than enough horrific tales of how the persecuted lived under fascism in the middle of the 20th century, and indeed dozens of books with “Koestler” on their covers.
“Scum of the Earth” is a unique kind of autobiographical adventure, a guide to suffering atrocious treatment with as much good humor as possible. The book also describes how a totalitarian regime can subvert the morals of both states and individuals.
For someone who wasn’t actually a criminal, Arthur Koestler certainly saw the inside of a large number of cells. Reprising this aspect of his personal history is possibly the best way to explain what the reader can expect from “Scum of the Earth.”
“Mazel tov” is the customary exuberant response to the sound of shattering glass at the conclusion of a Jewish wedding ceremony. But for a young Fred (Fritz) Behrend, the sound of breaking glass meant anything but celebration.
The harrowing events that defined the formative years of Behrend’s life are chronicled in an engrossing book that he co-authored with Larry Hanover, Rebuilt from Broken Glass: A German Jewish Life Remade in America. In this book, we learn about the years leading up to the Holocaust as witnessed though the eyes of a young boy who led a life of innocence and privilege. But in 1938, when he was 13, the life he knew was abruptly shattered by the event known as Kristallnacht (Night of Broken Glass). [Read more…]
-Deanne Scherlis Comer
I, like so many, am weeping at the words I heard yesterday from the leader of our beloved country.
Moreover, I am wondering if any of the president’s supporters who have any shred of moral credibility left are looking at themselves in the mirror and asking, “What have I done?” And when will other members of that coterie of his inner circle show some backbone and call out, loudly and clearly, the heinous words and actions that have tarnished this presidency?
This is the time to be an “upstander” and not a “bystander” in our daily interactions as well. Our children, whose footsteps are shaping the path of our nation’s history, are listening.
This is the time to remember and honor all those who have stood up and fought against Nazism, Fascism and global genocides at any level.This is the time to remember the diminishing number of Holocaust survivors who are the heroic remnants of the horror inflicted by racial and ethnic hatred.
This is the time to feel empathy for the African Americans who still feel the inequalities, for the moderate Muslims who feel threatened, and for the undocumented, law-abiding immigrants who want a fair opportunity and path to citizenship.
My father fled the pogroms of Communist Russia and always cautioned me about speaking out on issues I believed in. He felt that as a Jew, I should keep a low profile. “Well,” I told him, “Elie Wiesel believed that even if no one is listening, we need to yell against injustice so others don’t change us!”
So, as a human being, as the daughter of an immigrant, as an American Jewish woman, as a mother, as a grandmother and as a Holocaust educator, I will continue to speak my mind.
Hillel said, “If not now, when?”
Deanne Scherlis Comer is past chair of Abington School District’s Holocaust Curriculum Committee and is an education consultant for the Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center of Delaware Valley.
As world events churn perilously with ethnic hatred and violence, expertise in the field of Holocaust and genocide studies is needed more than ever. Atrocities perpetrated by terrorist groups around the world and hate crimes on the rise in the United States and Europe make the promise of “never again” seem to ring hollow. In response to these acts, experts are needed to inform government policy, educate the public, and provide teachers with the tools they need to instruct the next generation on the dangerous repercussions of hatred and intolerance.
This fall, Gratz College will launch an online Ph.D. program in Holocaust and genocide studies, making this important field accessible to students everywhere. This program is the first in the United States to offer a Doctor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies degree, as opposed to a Ph.D. in a related discipline, such as history or sociology. [Read more…]
The Roses in June closes its Philadelphia run with two performances today at Plays & Players Theatre in Philadelphia. This new play, written by Timothy M. Kolman, tackles two difficult subjects through the lives of The Rose Family, who fled Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, escaping to what they hoped would be a better life in London. There is the life-long fear associated with being a refugee and the anguish of bullying and anti-Semitism since their son Paul was a victim of this, even after moving to London. With striking resemblance to contemporary times, the play brings the audience face-to-face with the past, but in frightening reality with the present.
There is a matinee today at 2 pm and an evening performance at 7 p.m. Tickets are $47 for orchestra seating and $35 for balcony seating. To purchase tickets, call 866-811-4111 or visit www.therosesinjune.com. For groups of 10 or more, call: 267 299 8822. Students and Seniors can purchase tickets at 50% discount at the theatre box office one hour prior to show time. For information, call: 844 – 7ROSE67 (844-776-7367).
The Holocaust Awareness Museum and Education Center of Philadelphia will host a screening of another important Holocaust-related film, “Trezoros – The Lost Jews of Kastoria,” coupled with a Q&A session with the filmmakers.
The story is set in the beautiful, idyllic city of Kastoria where Jews and Christians lived in harmony for over two millennia. In October of 1940 it would all be destroyed after the invasion of Greece by Axis forces. Initially occupied by Italy, the Jewish community remained safe. After Mussolini fell from power the Nazis took control of the town, dooming the community that had existed since the times of the Roman Empire. The film uses never before seen archival footage, vibrantly bringing to life just one of the many Jewish communities that had existed in Greece before the end of World War II. “Trezoros” (a Ladino/JudeoSpanish term of endearment meaning “Treasures”) is a highly emotional story told by its survivors, with interviews filmed on location in Kastoria, Thessaloniki, Athens, Tzur Moshe, Tel Aviv, Miami, Los Angeles and New York. Please join us after the screening for a dessert reception & an opportunity to speak with Larry Confino & Lawrence Russo – filmmakers of Trezoros: The Lost Jews of Kastoria. This event is presented in partnership with the National Museum of American Jewish History.
Tonight is the press opening for The Roses in June, a new play written by Timothy M. Kolman, which will run through July 1, 2017, at Plays & Players Theatre in Philadelphia. The play tackles two difficult subjects through the lives of The Rose Family, who fled Nazi Germany during the Holocaust, escaping to what they hoped would be a better life in London. There is the life-long fear associated with being a refugee and the anguish of bullying and anti-Semitism since their son Paul was a victim of this, even after moving to London. With striking resemblance to contemporary times, the play brings the audience face-to-face with the past, but in frightening reality with the present.
Since tonight is the press opening, the show will begin at 7 p.m. Otherwise, it will run Tuesdays through Fridays at 8 pm, and Saturdays and Sundays at 2 pm and 7 pm. Each performance will be followed by talk-backs featuring the playwright, director and actors.
Tickets are on sale now and are $47 for orchestra seating and $35 for balcony seating. To purchase tickets, call 866-811-4111 or visit www.therosesinjune.com. For groups of 10 or more, call: 267 299 8822. Students and Seniors can purchase tickets at 50% discount at the theatre box office one hour prior to show time. For information, call: 844 – 7ROSE67 (844-776-7367).