Holocaust Remembrance Day; ‘Shower’ for Jewish Food Pantry

RESISTANCE. DEFIANCE. COURAGE. These are the themes of the 2010 community-wide Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom HaShoah) at 4 p.m., Sunday, April 11 at Brith Sholom Kneseth Israel, 1107 East Linden in Richmond Heights. Every year the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center commemorates one of the most tragic events in our history. The point of this year’s remembrance is to honor the many forms of resistance sustained against Nazi oppression, from armed revolt to maintaining humanity and faith. St. Louis survivors will share their personal testimonies. Marci Rosenberg, co-chair of Yom HaShoah, told me that 10 survivors will tell their harrowing tales, including Felicia Graber who, by the grace of God and the strength of her mother and father escaped the fate of many Jews in Eastern Europe.

Felicia was born in Tarnow, Poland where her father was a successful jeweler and watchmaker and her mother was a housewife.

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“As the noose around the Jewish population tightened, Father assumed a sense of communal responsibility. Circumstances propelled him into extraordinary feats which he took for granted…Father’s gutsy, fearless and self-assured attitude led to the saving of a blond, blue-eyed baby boy a desperate parent had placed in my crib before going into hiding,” Felicia recounted.

Go hear her for yourself as she has a fascinating story to tell.Beginning at 3 p.m. and continuing after the program, B’nai B’rith St. Louis will coordinate “Unto Every Person There is a Name,” an international program in which the names of Holocaust victims will be read by members of the St. Louis Jewish community. Music for the Yom HaShoah observance will be provided by Szyfra and Gregor Braitberg’s family. Gregor, a survivor and violinist who passed away last year, had said that on several occasions his life was saved by his musical ability.

“Each year Yom HaShoah takes on more urgency because our St. Louis survivors are, for the most part, in their 80’s and 90’s,” said Kent Hirschfelder, Commemoration Committee chair. “After World War II about 300 survivors came to St. Louis. Today fewer than 150 survivors remain here, and they are eyewitnesses to one of, if not the worst atrocities in history.'” Share that history with them on April 11.

IT’S A “SHOWER” for women who are served by the Harvey Kornblum Jewish Food Pantry. Hosting the event is the Women’s Connection of the Jewish Federation, which is asking guests to donate personal care items to the Food Pantry and pack Mother’s Day bags to help make this day special for these needy women. Guests are asked to donate at least two of the following personal care items: shampoo, bar soap, toothbrushes, toothpaste or toilet paper to restock the Food Pantry’s shelves. For the Mother’s Day bags the ‘hostesses” are asking that we bring four new unopened items such as nail polish, nail files, lipstick, purse-sized hand lotion, eye shadow, eye liner and/or mascara.

Admission to the “Shower” at 7 p.m. April 22 in the Carl and Helene Mirowitz Performing Arts & Banquet Center in the new Arts and Education Building at the JCC, 2 Millstone Campus is $12 per person plus your donation. Dessert will be served, and free raffle tickets for some interesting prizes will be handed out at check-in. The speaker for the evening is to be Rabbi Amy Feder, the incoming senior rabbi at Temple Israel who will make the connection between tzedakah and Jewish values, emphasizing our responsibility as Jews to help those in need. Register by April 16 at www.jewishinstlouis.org/womensconnection or mail your check to Jewish Federation’s Women’s Connection, 12 Millstone Campus Drive, St. Louis, Mo. 63146.

CONGRATULATIONS TO BARBARA LANGSAM SHUMAN, JILL MIROWITZ MOGIL AND SHARON HARRIS POLLACK who co-produced, directed and wrote “The Stem Cell Divide,” an award-winning documentary. They are on their way to West Hollywood where the film will make its West Coast premiere at the Los Angeles Women’s International Film Festival. In Barbara’s words, “‘The Stem Cell Divide’ covers the two-year period when the debate over embryonic stem cell research truly divided Missouri and focused the attention of the entire country on our state. We begin with Missouri State Senator Matt Bartle’s introduction of SB 160, a bill that would have banned the most promising form of embryonic stem cell research from being conducted in Missouri. Our documentary continues to explore the passions and principles of Missourians who championed both sides of the issue through the campaign for the Missouri Stem Cell Research and Cures Imitative/Amendment 2, which protects all forms of stem cell research from any ban or criminalization. The campaign culminated in a narrow victory for Amendment 2, now a part of the Missouri state constitution.” I hope all of us can see the documentary when screenings are held this summer in St. Louis.