Those people you see with lanyards and box breakfasts are on a mission of great consequence. They are off to collect memories that they will share for the rest of their lives.
|Tuesday morning started with a box breakfast and a run to our bus for a ride to Miami Beach from the Fort Lauderdale Marina. Roll call on the bus, and off we went for a unique day of remembrance with the backdrop of a beautiful memorial, a unique museum of Jewish life and culture, and the testimony of three incredible survivors of the Holocaust.
Upon arriving at the Holocaust Memorial of Miami Beach – Greater Miami Jewish Federation. Our group was met by Lida Shukrie, Program Coordinator for the Memorial. We watched a brief documentary on the creation of the memorial by artist Kenneth Treaster, and were welcomed by the Memorial’s executive director, Sharon Horowitz. Also meeting up with the group at the Memorial was Holland & Knight partner Lee Teichner, as well as associates and summer associates from Holland & Knight’s South Florida offices.
Students and teachers toured the memorial with Holland & Knight lawyers and staff. They were lead by Holocaust survivor Joe Dziubak, a survivor of Auschwitz-Birkenau death camp where everyone else in his family was murdered. Joe has been a volunteer at the Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach since it was opened in 1990.
The memorial is breathtaking, and our group was greatly moved by the figures on the hand symbolizing the anguished suffering by the victims of the Holocaust. Joe spoke about the names on the walls, and the pictures displayed in the covered walkway to the memorial – and then he let everyone explore alone. It was a time for silence.
The teachers moved on to a luncheon and teacher symposium, sponsored by The Betsy Hotel on Miami Beach. Dr. Miriam Klein Kassenoff, Director, Holocaust Studies Summer Teacher Institute/ School of Education led the event, and provided teachers with not only new knowledge about the Holocaust, but also effective methodologies in the teaching of this watershed event.
The students enjoyed lunch at Bessie’s Bistro at the Jewish Museum of Florida. Following lunch, the students were invited to view the museum’s exhibits on Jewish life and history in Florida. Rabbi Cheryl Weiner, the museum’s education coordinator, presented a lesson on the museum’s exhibit entitled “Seeking Justice: Leo Frank Revisited.” Our group was joined by Holland & Knight partner Frances Faigenblat.
Aranka Siegel joined us at the museum and found a quiet place to tell her story to the students. Aranka, from Beregszasz, Hungary was only 13 years old when her family was forced into slave labor at the local brick family, and then shipped to Auschwitz. Aranka is the author of two books, Upon the Head of the Goat: A childhood in Hungary 1939-1944 and Memorials of Babi. Everyone in our group received copies of the book, and Aranka signed them all.
That evening, the survivors we had met during the week joined us for dinner and for the testimony of Sam Harris who lost nearly all of his family to the Holocaust. Sam hid inside concentration camps, and explained how this came to be to a quiet group of listeners. Our group was joined by partners Marie Lefere, Stephen Moss, Ron Klein and Tom Morante. Marie Lefere, as Chair of the Holland & Knight Charitable Foundation congratulated the student and teachers, and thanked the survivors for the sharing of their stories.
We wanted to stay awake and talk about all we had learned that day, but tomorrow was another long day of travel and learning and we retired rather early!