Tuesday, October 27, 2009

She was a Real Hero

Today, I had the distinct privilege to attend a moving event honoring a very special woman who put her life on the line day in and day out to rescue a little boy during the Holocaust. For two years, Louise Roger hid little Huburt (today Ehud Leob) in her home in France. Today, Ehud and his family, along with the Yad Vashem Chairman and staff, the French Ambassador to Israel, Holocaust survivors and French educators, paid tribute to her in the Garden of the Righteous at Yad Vashem.

Louise Roger’s grandson Robert, when asked why his grandmother decided to hide Ehud, said, “She didn’t decide, it just happened. My father came to her with Ehud. It wasn’t a question, it was her heart speaking…. She was a simple woman with a huge heart….”

Reflecting on his time with the Roger family, Ehud Leob noted that, “They encouraged me to keep my religion, in the hopes that my parents would return… They not only saved my life, they saved my Jewish identity…I found refuge and love with her. She was a real hero… After the war, you could see a picture of me, of one little orphan. Today, I’m here with a big family. That is my victory.” Click here for the full story

Sunday, October 25, 2009

New Magazine Now Online

The Fall edition of the magazine Yad Vashem Jerusalem has just been uploaded and you can now read it online. The cover article features a compelling issue - how much did the media know about the Nazi's plans for the Jews. A week-long scholarly workshop this summer tackled this topic - real-time media reports during WWII. Also in the issue - recent educational activities including an unique visit of Palestinian youth to Yad Vashem, a review of the Third National Teachers' Conference, and a group of special seminars for ultra-orthodox teachers.

Thursday, October 15, 2009

Prime Minister of Spain Visits Yad Vashem

The Prime Minister of Spain,Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero, visited Yad Vashem earlier today, touring the Holocaust History Musuem and taking part in a moving memorial ceremony in the Hall of Names. He was accompanied by Israeli Education Minister Gideon Sa'ar, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, and President of the Spanish Society for Yad Vashem, Isaac Querub.

After visiting the Children's memorial and signing the guest book, Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council presented the President with a copy Yad Vashem's unique Album, To Bear Witness.

Film Depicts 2,000 Years of Jewish History: "The World that Was"

Yesterday, a very special multi-media presentation, “The World that Was,” was unveiled in Yad Vashem’s Valley of the Communities. The short film depicts the richness and vitality of 2,000 years of Jewish life and culture before the Holocaust. Fittingly it is screened in the Valley, a massive 2.5 acre memorial to the more than 5,000 Jewish communities decimated in the Holocaust where more than 100 stone walls tower above the ground, engraved with the names of each of those communities, a testament to a what no longer exists.

Speaking movingly of the changes that have taken place in Holocaust remembrance over the years, Chairman of the Yad Vashem Council Rabbi Israel Meir Lau, underscored the importance of not just talking about how people perished in the Holocaust – the horrific ways that their lives ended – but remembering who those six million Jews and their communities were. Remarking upon the value of appreciating the lost communities, their institutions, and their way of life, he noted, “If someone doesn’t appreciate a phenomenon he will not feel any pain if that phenomenon ceases to exits.”

Mr. Brian Markeson, Chairman of the British Friends of Yad Vashem remarked: “It is essential to learn what was lost in the Shoah in order to understand its implications.” The new trustees of the British Friends for Yad Vashem, in Israel for a special 3-day mission, were recognized at the event for the culmination of the British Friends of Yad Vashem fundraising project endowing the “The World that Was”.

Thousands of teachers, IDF soldiers, and school children are expected to view the film each year.

Monday, October 12, 2009

Names Database Helps Cousins Discover Each Other 68 Years After the Shoah

Toby Levin and Shalom Rozen met each other for the first time late last week. Reaching through time and space, these two first cousins covered lost ground as they strove to get to know each other and their families - 68 years after the familial connection had been cut.

Shalom Rozen (Rozenblatt) survived the Holocaust and always believed that he was the only remnant of his family. Having lost his parents and five siblings, Shalom arrived alone on Israeli shores in 1946 and built a new life. Shalom's father Yehudah Leib had two older brothers, Meyer and Isaac who settled in the US just before WWI: Meyer to New York, and Isaac to Florida. The brothers did not stay in touch with each other and Shalom's attempts to locate his uncles and his extended family were only partially successful. During the 1940s he succeeded in locating his cousin in New York, Meyer's daughter, but was not able to track down the family of his other uncle, and over the years he continued to wonder - what happened to his Uncle Isaac.

Recently, Toby Levin (of Florida) dedicated her time to conducting exhaustive research
on her family's roots. With only minimal information - her father's name, Isaac Rozenblatt, and the name of his hometown - she conducted a search on Yad Vashem's Central Database of Shoah Victims' Names and to her surprise found Pages of Testimony that Shalom Rozen had submitted for his family, including information regarding their mutual grandmother, Isaac, Meyer and Yehudah Leib's mother.

Toby immediately realized she had in fact discovered members of her family and turned to The American Society for Yad Vashem in South Florida for assistance. With their help, she successfully contacted Shalom and introduced herself. After several emotional telephone conversations, Toby didn't hesitate and booked a trip to Israel for the upcoming Sukkot holiday to meet her newly discovered cousin.

Toby, along with her two brothers Jack and Stanley, met their cousin Shalom and members of the extended Rozen family, for the first time last week in Israel.
Toby and Jack then visited Yad Vashem accompanied by Asaf Tal, Shalom's grandson who is a staff member of Yad Vashem's International School of Holocaust Studies.

Sunday, October 4, 2009

97-Year-Old Survivor Sees her Story on Film

Last Thursday, I had the pleasure of spending some time with some remarkable women: Marta Spiegel, Veronica Ferres, Anni Richter-Aschoff and Lia Hoensbroech, and Margarita Broich. Mrs Spiegel, is an amazing 97-year-old Holocaust survivor, who wrote a book about her experiences hiding with a family of farmers in Germany during the Holocaust. That book has now been made into a film, (directed by Ludi Boeken) called Saviours in the Night, and it has just premiered at the Jerusalem Cinametheque.
Ferres is the German actress and star of the film who portrays Marga Spiegel, Anni Richter-Aschoff is the daughter of the German farmer and Righteous Among the Nations who hid Marga Spiegel and her daughter for the duration of WWII, and Lia Hoensbroech, and Margarita Broich played Anni and her mother in the film. It's an inspirational story -- the Spiegels are the only Jews from their town of Ahlen to have survived the war, and to meet these amazing women, with the director who brought this true story to the screen was an unique experience. The group was very touched to visit the Garden of the Righteous Among the Nations at Yad Vashem (pictured) and pay homage to the Righteous who took such risks to rescue the Spiegel family.