December 8 Film Night: “The Long Way Home”

Join us on Thursday, December 8 for a special screening of the Academy Award-winning documentary The Long Way Home, narrated by Morgan Freeman. The film will be screened in conjunction with our current special gallery exhibit, Rebirth after the Holocaust: Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons Camp, 1945-1950.

The Long Way Home tells the story of thousands of Jewish survivors as they tried to reclaim their place in the world following World War II and the Holocaust. Using rare archival footage and stills, news reels, and interviews, the film depicts the challenges refugees faced in displaced persons camps—refugee centers set up specifically for survivors of the Holocaust.

This companion film echoes the true stories of survival and liberation presented in the Museum’s current exhibit. Come see the film and tour our exhibit to witness the revival of Jewish culture in the unlikeliest of places, as well as the struggle to establish a homeland. Learn about the years of delayed freedom, uncertainty, and physical hardship before the refugees were finally permitted to begin new lives in Israel, the United States, and elsewhere.

The Long Way Home starts at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday, December 8, at the Museum. Run Time is 120 minutes. The screening is free, but RSVP is required. Register at Eventbrite.

 

For Upstander Speaker Mike Kim, Saving Lives at the North Korean Border Required that He Risk Losing His Own

Mike Kim
Mike Kim

“You have to get through the gate. If you get through the gate, you will be safe. Inside is sovereign ground.”

Humanitarian Mike Kim was preparing four teenagers to break into the British consulate in Shanghai, but the kids were distracted. They’d never been to a McDonald’s restaurant before.

One of the kids was playing a game on Kim’s phone. He couldn’t put it down.

“Are you listening to me?” The four North Koreans looked up at him, one with a straw still in her mouth.

“That’s when it hit me,” said Kim, speaking in front of a packed audience at the Communities Foundation of Texas on Thursday, November 17, “these were just kids. They didn’t understand how dangerous it was to gain their freedom.”

Kim, a human trafficking expert and award-winning author, was the Museum’s Upstander Speaker for November—an event sponsored by The Dallas Morning News.

Kim’s story began on New Year’s Day, 2003, when he arrived in China after giving up his successful financial planning business in Chicago. A graduate of Georgetown and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, Kim had decided to forego a promising future in business and instead do the unthinkable: smuggle North Koreans out of a country with one of the worst human rights records in the world.

While living near the China-North Korea border, Kim operated undercover as a North Korean taekwondo student training under two well-known masters from Pyongyang. From there, he used a 6,000-mile underground railroad to lead many North Korean refugees and sex trafficking victims to safety in Southeast Asia.

“The underground railroad used during American slavery was an inspiration,” said Kim. Centuries later and half-way across the globe, the methods for a traveler to skirt authority and travel discreetly remained the same.

And of course, danger lurked wherever he went. “Getting caught by Chinese authorities was one thing,” said Kim, “but if North Korean authorities found out what you were doing, they would send assassins to China to kill you.”

Avoiding human traffickers and drug smugglers was daunting. Kim used the same paths the criminals used, and there were many close calls, but he took comfort knowing that he would be reclaiming the underground system for righteous purposes.

When Kim and the four North Korean kids left McDonald’s that day and arrived just outside the British consulate, they saw Chinese guards milling around the front gate. “When I give you the word,” he told them, “I want you to run through the gate as fast as you can. If the guards come across the line and try to pull you back, you’re allowed to kick and scream. Do whatever you can to stay on sovereign the ground.”

The guards turned away for a moment, and Kim gave the kids the signal. They sprinted for the gate. Three of them had made it through the gates when the guards heard the commotion and ran back to their posts. They crossed the line illegally and grabbed the fourth kid as she passed onto the sovereign ground. The guards yanked on her, but she shook free and got away just before they could pull her back over the line.

They had made it to freedom.

Years later, after the kids had resettled in South Korea, Kim got a call. They wanted to meet up with him. “Where do you want to meet?” he asked. They didn’t hesitate.

“McDonald’s.”

Mike Kim’s memoir, Escaping North Korea: Defiance and Hope in the World’s Most Repressive Country, describes his harrowing experiences at the China-North Korea border. Kim is also the founder of Crossing Borders, a nonprofit organization dedicated to providing humanitarian assistance to North Korean refugees. Crossing Borders organizers have testified before Congress on the issue of counteracting human trafficking in China, and the organization regularly contributes to the U.S. State Department’s “Annual Trafficking in Persons Report.”

Be sure to join us on December 8 at 6:30 p.m. at the Museum for the film screening, The Long Way Home, the 1997 Academy Award-winning documentary directed by Mark Jonathan Harris that focuses on the post-war period from 1945-1948 and the plight of tens of thousands of Jewish survivors and refugees as they reclaimed their place in the world. Rare archival footage—stills, newsreels, and interviews—was used to complete the film. The screening is free but an RSVP is required through Eventbrite.

-McGuire Boles for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

 

Amid Heated Election Rhetoric, ‘City-Wide Read and Performance’ Teaches DISD Fifth Graders R-E-S-P-E-C-T

willesdenlaneBy Mary Pat Higgins

People often ask me about the purpose of the Dallas Holocaust Museum, and I’m quick to respond that we teach the importance of standing up to counter hatred and prejudice.

Shaping minds and positively affecting behavior is at the core of our mission.

With all that is happening in the world today, including the strong emotions and rhetoric raised by the 2016 Presidential Election, our work is more important than ever.

Next week, the Museum, the Dallas Independent School District, and Jewish day schools from around the region will host the first-ever, privately-funded “City-Wide Read and Performance” at Fair Park Music Hall.

More than 12,300 students from 153 DISD Schools and local Jewish day schools—along with 500 educators—will engage with an innovative, interactive and creative Holocaust education program based on the book, The Children of Willesden Lane. The book tells the true story of a young Jewish girl who used her musical talent to find her way in her new home after escaping the Nazis as a passenger on the Kindertransport.

The unique “City-Wide Read and Performance” project began more than a year ago when the Museum discussed the idea with the book’s co-author, the concert pianist Mona Golabek. Similar programs produced amazing results in 20 cities across the U.S. with a total of 150,000 student participants. In Dallas, the program quickly gained traction through the generosity of a Dallas resident who cares deeply about children’s education and underwrote the project cost. That donation, which was a matching gift that attracted other donors’ generosity—along with the work and dedication of event co-chairs Helen Risch and Ynette Hogue—made this program a reality.

Last summer, the Museum’s education team provided age-appropriate Holocaust education training and curricula to 500 English, History, Art, and Performing Arts teachers, librarians and administrators.

Using a curriculum centered on the book and the history of the Holocaust and its lessons, educators teach about anti-Semitism, race, religion, morality, and courage in an age-appropriate manner. The book highlights topics that touch the lives of many children today, including overcoming adversity, growing up without one or both parents and experiencing prejudice. Following Texas Education Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) requirements, the curriculum covers the geography of Europe, Hitler’s rise to power, the Kindertransport, and vocabulary including words such as “refugee,” “bystander,” and “identity.”

At the start of the school year, each DISD fifth grader received a complimentary copy of the book, excerpts of which they read during their Social Studies, English Language Arts and ESL classes. They were also encouraged to read with their families at home.

In October, students expressed their feelings about the book and the Holocaust in their art and performing arts classes.

From Monday to Wednesday of next week (November 14th to 16th), the project culminates with a performance by Mona Golabek. She will present a series of interactive concert performances for more than 12,300 students at the Music Hall.

Character education is at the core of the “City-Wide Read and Performance,” and this, in turn, impacts children’s emotional, moral and intellectual development. The program will yield huge dividends for the children in attendance, their families, and our communities.

Higher academic performance, improved attendance, reduced violence, fewer disciplinary issues, reduction in substance abuse, and less vandalism are reported as outcomes of a sustained focus upon character education.

Students have also reported feeling safer at schools in which they and their peers are taught the value of respect, responsibility, compassion and hard work. From a practical perspective, it’s simply easier to teach children how to exercise patience, self-control, and diligence.

We know from independent studies on the impact of a student’s visit to the Museum that if we can reach students at an early age, we can inspire them to become Upstanders—people who stand up and speak up for what is right, even if, at times, they stand alone.

Mary Pat Higgins is President & CEO of the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance. Email mphiggins@dallasholocaustmuseum.org

 

 

“Rebirth After the Holocaust: Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons Camp, 1945-1950,” Newest Special Exhibit New Open for Visitors

jeanrosensaft
Jean Bloch Rosensaft

When the British Army marched into the Bergen-Belsen concentration camp on April 15, 1945, their long and traumatic days of fighting had not prepared them for the horrors they would encounter inside the camp.

The air around the camp had turned sour with the stench of 10,000 unburied bodies. Even more shocking were the tens of thousands of “walking corpses,” those who were hanging onto life by a thread due to disease and starvation.

The British had not come to Germany to liberate anyone, yet found themselves in charge of keeping alive thousands of Jews and other refugees who had been brought to the camp to die.

Jean Bloch Rosensaft was the guest speaker at the October 6 opening reception of the Museum’s latest special exhibit.  She shared that  both her parents and future in-laws resided at the Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons Camp and became important leaders there.

Rosensaft, an Assistant Vice President at Hebrew Union College in New York, and her father, a Holocaust survivor, organized the Bergen-Belen exhibit, using historical evidence and eyewitness accounts given by survivors, including their family members.

Even though the prisoners had been liberated and given refuge in the displaced persons camp, their troubles persisted. About 500 people died every day from typhus and malnutrition. Many could not digest their rations, while some resisted life-saving injections from Army doctors because of their experiences with poor or nefarious medical treatment in the camp.

The British were not prepared for this kind of refugee crisis. Circumstances in the camp became dire. Thanks to press coverage seen and heard around the world, news of poor living conditions within the camp reached the ears of President Harry Truman, who had taken office just three days before the liberation. Camp conditions quickly and dramatically improved.

Jewish refugees in the camp began to organize and decided to build a life for themselves, however temporary, while they waited to find a host country or migrate to Israel.

Within six weeks, the camp committee had set up a school where children were taught modern Hebrew. The focus on teaching this lingua franca gave the camp’s Jews, originally citizens of many different countries, the ability to communicate.

The committee organized cultural, religious, and political activities for the survivors, including two theatre troupes that put on plays about survivors’ experiences in the concentration camps. A form of psychological healing, noted Rosensaft, occurred during the performances when audience members’ experiences and feelings were affirmed by what performers reenacted on stage.

The camp held nearly 20 marriage ceremonies a day with open invitations, and over the lifetime of the camp, more than 2,000 children were born. The Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons Camp not only provided refuge for survivors, it was also enabled survivors to find community and regain control over their lives.

By the middle of 1950, the majority of the Jewish refugees had migrated to Israel, Canada, South Africa, or the United States, with only a small number remaining in Germany.

The memory of the displaced persons camp lives on in Jean Bloch Rosensaft, whose exhibit  depicts not only the hardships in the displaced persons camp but also the hope for the future that so many reclaimed in their temporary home in northern Germany.

Find out just how resilient these survivors proved to be. Learn about the underground organization set up by survivors to resist forced repatriation after liberation. Experience all this and more when you visit the museum’s special exhibit “Rebirth After the Holocaust: Bergen-Belsen Displaced Persons Camp, 1945-1950,” which runs until January 31, 2017.

–McGuire Boles, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

 

Nate Levine: 2016 Hope for Humanity Award Honoree

nate-levine-5-24-16-photo-2The Museum has officially announced its 2016 Hope for Humanity Honoree. Business person, philanthropist, and volunteer Nate Levine will accept the award at the Museum’s annual Hope for Humanity Dinner on Wednesday, October 26 at the Fairmont Hotel’s Regency Ballroom.

Nate joins other prominent community members who have received the Museum’s Hope for Humanity Award, including former Dallas Cowboys quarterback Roger Staubach, Exxon VP Frank Risch, Attorney Don M. Glendenning of Locke Lord, Commercial Metals CEO Stan Rabin, and Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings.

Every day is a gift, says Nate, an opportunity not only to learn and to grow but to serve others in meaningful ways. “If I can bring about a small change in someone’s life, or do my part to help alleviate poverty, I consider those as accomplishments,” he says.

For nearly 45 years, Nate and his wife Ann Levine have shared their time, talent, and spirit with the city of Dallas. They have endowed a Chair for Jewish Studies at Southern Methodist University in Dallas and provided significant funding for the Ann and Nate Levine Academy in Dallas.

From humble beginnings in upstate New York where he grew up, Nate graduated from the RCA Institute of Technology in New York City and began his career repairing televisions.

Recognizing opportunities in the burgeoning cable television business, Nate became a pioneer in the industry, serving as Chief Engineer for Jerrold Electronics Systems Division of Philadelphia, which was later sold to Sammons Communications of Dallas. Ann and Nate followed the company to Dallas in 1972 and never looked back.

In the late 1970s, Nate launched his business building and operating cable systems throughout the Southwestern United States. His company pioneered a new credit collections method serving cable systems and other firms across the nation. Later in life, Nate formed a real estate investment company that has holdings throughout Texas.

Join Us In September For These Must-See Events

september10September is a busy month at the Museum. We’re saying goodbye to the heat and hello to autumn with five special events centered around the International Day of Peace—celebrated annually on September 21st around the world.

Each week in September, the Museum will host a special guest to talk about his or her experiences before, during, and after the Holocaust.

Events kick off on Sunday, September 4th, as Holocaust survivor Jack Repp tells his incredible, true story of fighting in the resistance and living in various ghettos and concentration camps, including Auschwitz, Dachau, and Kielce. Jack will speak at 12:30 PM; you don’t need a ticket to hear the speaker, but admission is required to tour the Museum.

On Sunday, September 11th, Magie Furst will talk about life as a Kindertransport refugee and how Jewish children were rescued from the Nazis and brought to the United Kingdom. Maggie will speak at 12:30 PM; you don’t need a ticket to hear the speaker, but admission is required to tour the Museum.

The Museum will officially recognize the International Day of Peace on Sunday, September 18th, with its main event of the season when it hosts three speakers who will tell their dramatic stories of endurance and survival. Survivors Max Glauben, Fred Strauss, and Jack Repp will speak at 11:00 AM, 1:00 PM, and 3:00 PM, respectively. Museum admission will be free on this day; however, space will be limited.

Holocaust refugee Fred Strauss will return the following Sunday, September 25th, to talk about growing up in Germany and surviving the Holocaust. Fred will speak at 12:30 PM; you don’t need a ticket to hear the speaker, but admission is required to tour the Museum.

Please note that two docents will be available to provide guided tours following the speaker on September 4, 11, and 25. The tours will start around 1:45, immediately following the speaker. Docents will guide groups of 15 people each. A sign-up sheet for the tours will be provided at the front desk. Access to group tours is on a first-come, first-served basis.

On Tuesday, September 27th, the Museum will wrap up the month with a discussion on the history of anti-Semitism, hosted by Dr. Sara Abosch, Senior Director of Education at the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance. “Lunch and Learn: Historical Lessons” begins at 11:30 AM and is open and free to the public. RSVP is required through Eventbrite.

–McGuire Boles, for The Dallas Holocaust Museum

Free Speech & Hate Speech: Can They Coexist?

Human Rights PanelDeny the Holocaust in the United States and get ready for the verbal debate you’ll have. Try denying the Holocaust in most European countries and you can count on being fined and hauled off to jail.

Between the two philosophies of protected speech, who do you think got it right?

On July 26, a panel of three experts attempted to answer that very question at the Museum’s Holocaust & Human Rights Educator Conference. The panel, “Free Speech & Hate Speech: Can They Coexist?,” included Cheryl R. Drazin of the Jean and Jerry Moore Southwest Civil Rights Counsel and the Anti-Defamation League of North Texas and Oklahoma; Dr. Rick Halperin, Director of the Embrey Human Rights Program at Southern Methodist University; and Dr. Gregory Stanton, Research Professor in Genocide Studies at George Mason University and Founder and President of Genocide Watch.

Panelists noted that Holocaust denial is just one of many forms of speech—including drawing swastikas and wearing Nazi uniforms—that Europe has cracked down on since the end of WWII. Meanwhile, in the United States, “hate speech” remains a protected form of discourse that has been upheld by major court decisions time after time.

Ms. Drazin sides with the United States on this one. She takes the “libertarian” view of free speech, insisting that “only by protecting the most offensive and heinous speech can we protect all speech.”

Dr. Halperin, on the other hand, takes a “humanitarian” view of free speech, lauding the European approach to criminalizing hate speech and shutting down hate groups. To give listeners a better idea of the two underlying philosophies, Dr. Halperin juxtaposed the American belief in a fundamental “right to life” with the declaration of a “right to life with dignity” as outlined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights. By its very nature, he argued, declaring a “right to life with dignity” would necessitate laws against hate speech.

Skeptical of both approaches to free speech, Dr. Stanton argued for a more moderate, “communitarian” approach.   “Hateful rhetoric,” he says, “can be monitored at the community level.” Hateful words that cause harm to a particular community can be addressed with an emphasis on a community’s wellbeing as opposed to an emphasis on the individual’s right to make hateful remarks.

All of the panelists agreed that Americans must pay better attention to the presence of hate speech on television, on the Internet, and in everyday interactions. Even if all speech is legal, it is our responsibility to confront hate speech with countervailing speech—a principle, as Dr. Stanton pointed out, hearkens back to Thomas Jefferson.

Hateful and offensive speech should put Americans on guard to combat such rhetoric and prevent extremism from turning into acts of violence. Whether hate speech is protected or not, our mission to protect human dignity starts with our choice of words. And to that end, we should never be afraid to speak up.

If you haven’t done so, be sure to visit the Museum’s special exhibit, “Survival in Sarajevo: La Benevolencija.”Based on Edward Serotta’s book Survival in Sarajevo: Jews, Bosnia, and the Lessons of the Past, the exhibit, which runs through Sept. 18, 2016. It features photos of Holocaust survivors, Catholic Croats, Muslims, and Orthodox Serbs caught in the horror of the longest siege of a city in the history of modern warfare.

And, we hope you will join us on Sept. 18 when, in recognition of the International Day of Peace, when the Museum will host “Peace Day Dallas – Meet Three Holocaust Survivors.” The survivors will each speak—one at 11 a.m., 1 p.m. and 3 p.m. Each survivor speaker will tell their story then answer your questions. Please allow at least 1 hour for each survivor. On this day, there is no charge to hear the survivors or to tour the Museum. However, space will be limited.

–McGuire Boles, for the Dallas Holocaust Museum/Center for Education and Tolerance

 

 

 

 

In Sarajevo, Hope Emerged Among the Diversity of the Human Spirit

ESsarajevoAs journalist and photographer Edward Serotta approached one of the last places of refuge in war-torn Sarajevo—an aging synagogue run by a cross-section of Sarajevo citizens—he could hardly believe the devastation that lay before him.

Refugees of all backgrounds, ethnic groups, and religions had gathered at the Jewish humanitarian aid agency known as La Benevolencija with nothing but the clothes on their backs, while Serotta himself, a neutral party in the conflict, entered the synagogue in a flak jacket and blast helmet.

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Zachor: At Yom Hashoah 2016, We Remember the Children

RememberThe Nazis and their collaborators murdered more than 1.5 million Jewish children between 1933 and 1945—one of the many despicable crimes of the Holocaust.

Every child had a name, a family, a place they called home.

On May 5, at the Museum’s Yom Hashoah 2016 service of remembrance at Dallas’ Congregation Shearith Israel, the children of the Holocaust were memorialized with music, the reading of their testimonies, prayers, and tears.

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On April 1, Join Us for the Kick-off of Big D Reads With 2016 Featured Title “The Diary of A Young Girl”

big_d_reads_anne_frank_posterJoin us at the Museum this Friday for the kickoff of Big D Reads – a read-in event from 10 a.m. to 12 noon at which community leaders will read selected passages from this year’s featured title, Anne Frank’s The Diary of a Young Girl.

A community service project throughout the month of April, Big D Reads seeks to engage the Dallas community in a city-wide reading experience as well as special events such as educational discussions and read-ins that tie into Anne Frank’s inspirational story.

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