Yom Hashoah to feature survivors’ stories

Columnist Lois Caplan

By Lois Caplan, Special to the Jewish Light

THE PULITZER Foundation for the arts is a major jewel in our cultural crown. On Thursday (April 5) in celebration of its 10th anniversary, the public is invited to a preview, nearly 50 works from the art collection of Emily and Joseph Pulitzer, including pieces by Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse, John Singer Sargent, Paul Cézanne and more. This is not much advance notice for you, but the exhibit, called “In the Still Epiphany,” will be on view in Tadao Ando’s gem-like building at 3716 Washington until October 27. To attend the advance viewing, RSVP to Kristin Fleischmann, 314-754-1847.


SURVIVORS AMONG US: STORIES FROM THE SHOAH is the subject of 2012’s Yom HaShoah (Holocaust Rembrance Day) on Sunday, April 22 at 4 p.m. at Congregation Temple Israel. The program will focus on the testimonies of four St. Louis survivors who convey the profound tragedy of the Holocaust—Judith Hruza and Bobbie Kohn from Hungary; Ann Lenga from Poland; and Mendel Rosenberg from Lithuania, all survivors of the Shoah. 


“Yom Hashoah is the largest program the Holocaust Museum presents—open to the entire community,” explained Daniel Reich, HMLC curator and director of education. 

“This year we feel strongly that it is important to focus on the voices of Survivors, sharing their diverse, unique experiences. They alone serve as eyewitnesses to this tragic period of history,” he added. 

This year’s Yom Hashoah commemoration, chaired by Vera Emmons, will include liturgical readings, memorial prayers and music performed by Tova, Gabriel and Mischa Braitberg, child and grandchildren of survivors, and Kolot, a community wide Jewish women’s choir. In my limited experience with the Holocaust, I have found the most meaningful stories are shared by survivors.  I think of my dear friend, the late Erika Goldburg, a survivor of Hitler’s Hungary, whose stories of her dreaded childhood, like when Piri, her mother, sewed the hateful yellow Jewish star on her winter coat on a birthday never leave my memory.


WHAT IN THE HECK IS RACH FEST? Ready to learn something new?  It is a St. Louis Symphony Orchestra two-weekend Rachmaninoff festival featuring renowned pianist Stephen Hough. 

April 27 through 29, Hough performs Rachmaninoff’s piano concerti No. 1 and No. 2 and the following weekend he will play Piano Concerti No. 1 and No. 3.  The latter was featured in the film “Shine” starring Geoffrey Rush who won an Academy Award for his portrayal of Australian pianist Stephen Helfgott. Helfgott suffered a nervous breakdown after performing Concerto No. 3 during a competition in London, and the film depicts his harrowing fall as well as his inspiring recovery. 

As a preview to Rach Fest the SLSO is sponsoring a screening of “Shine” on Wednesday, April 11 at 7 p.m. at the Tivoli Theatre.  The event is free but you must win passes, whatever that means. To find out visit www.stlsymphony.org and get yours.  To purchase  tickets to the Rach Fest, visit www.stlsymphony.org or call 314-534-1700.


RED STATES, BLUE STATES AND THE JEWISH STATE, a talk by the Jerusalem Post’s Gil Hoffman is to be given on Sunday, April 22 at 10:30 a.m. at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel’s Plaza room. There is no cost for the lecture and light breakfast, but you must make reservations as seating is limited. Register by April 17 at [email protected] I understand that Hoffman, a Washington, D.C.–Jerusalem-Relations Israeli insider, is brilliant on his subject.  For more information contact the ADL at 314-721-1270.

ALTHOUGH I DO NOT KNOW DR. BARRY AND ELLIE SAMSON, they sound like the kind of people I would like to meet and maybe I will have the opportunity.  They are to be honored by the Multiple Myeloma Research Foundation (MMRF) on Wednesday, May 5 at the Race For Research St. Louis 5K Walk/Run. They have been devoted to MMRF and co-chaired their comedy event in 2008 celebrating life through laughter. That is only the tip of the iceberg of the Samson’s and their sons’ contribution to an organization that is very meaningful to them.


IN CASE YOU MISSED the Women of Achievement announcement recently, I will refresh your memory.  Ten outstanding women will be honored at the luncheon Thursday, May 17 at the Ritz-Carlton. Among the honorees are three friends who deserve special mention—Barbara Langsam Shuman (kind of a protégé of mine), Carol Staenberg, whose contributions to the community are multitudinous and Lisa Orden Zarin, whose fabulous project College Bound has rescued lots of young men and women for a good, meaningful life. Tickets to the luncheon are $60. For more information, go to www.woastl.org.