The Hilton Lauderdale was our beautiful home base for our Holocaust scholar week in South Florida
|Our home for the Holocaust Remembrance Project 2011 was the Hilton Fort Lauderdale Marina where Carlos Molinet, general manager, and his staff, made our stay a wonderful experience.
Orientation began on Monday afternoon after the ten students, five teachers, and Holocaust survivors came together at the Hilton for lunch and orientation. Everyone received their lanyards, a review of what lay in store for the week. The Chair of the 2011 project, Holland & Knight partner Stephen Moss, welcomed the group and shared his hopes for the week.
Monday’s first speaker was Aryeh Leib “Eugene” Lebovitz, a survivor of Birkenau-Auschwitz. He shared the story of the harsh conditions of the ghetto, and the murder of his family when they were sent to the death camp. Eugene also told of his service to the pre-state Israel Defense Forces and his current work to support Israeli service members. He is called the Commander by his friends, and we soon became just that. The Commander spent many hours during the week with our group, sharing and inspiring us all.
Leah Bedzowski Johnson (Yonson) spoke next. Leah, together with her sisters, brother and cousin, escaped from the Ghetto in Lida, Belarussia, and survived with the Bielski Group in the woods (as portrayed in the movie Defiance). Leah told how she met and married her husband Velvel, and their post-war time in a Displaced Persons Camp in Torino, Italy. Leah was introduced by her youngest daughter, Sarah, and was accompanied by her grandson and oldest daughter. Leah’s warmth was evident throughout the week, as she answered the many questions of students and teachers.
The evening was capped off by a dynamic motivational presentation by Dr. Silvia Garcia-Molinet and her husband Carlos Molinet of the Molinet Institute. Both Silvia and Carlos reach out to all members of our group in delivering their message that “Anything, Absolutely Anything … is Possible!”
We all retired after a day of travel, introductions to new friends, our first stories of the Holocaust, and the infusion of words to live by. We know that the next day would hold more wonderful moments.