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Program from Promise of a new spring event, 2005



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HARRY REID NEVADA DEMOCRATIC LEADER Bnited States Senate WASHINGTON, DC 20610-7012 March 16, 2005 Governors Advisory Council on Education Relating to the Holocaust 2317 Renaissance Drive Las Vegas, Nevada 89119 Dear Friends: Welcome to the Holocaust Education Conference sponsored by the Governor's Advisoiy Council on Education Relating to the Holocaust, the Clark County School District, and the Las Vegas Jewish Federation. The Holocaust was a horrific period in world history. During the late 1930's and early 1940's, the Nazi regime and its collaborators systematically persecuted and murdered citizens they claimed were "inferior." Various groups, most notably Jews, wen targeted based on their racial, religious and political profile. The Holocaust was devastating, but there is much to be learned through careful examination of its history. It is my hope that students and teachers will find this conference both educational and compelling. For those of you who will be visiting Washington D.C., I invite you to contact my office at (866)-736-7343 or visit my website at to receive free tickets for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. I thank you for your participation in this wonderful conference and encourage you to diligently pursue your education. United States Senator HR/'ll KENNY C. CUINN Governor O F F I C E OF THE GOVERNOR GREETINGS FROM THE GOVERNOR As the Governor of the State of Nevada, it is with great pleasure that I welcome you to the Holocaust Education Conference. May today's gathering be memorable and enjoyable for all participants. I commend the Clark County School District, the Las Vegas Jewish Federation and the Governor's Advisory Council on Education Relating to the Holocaust, for their commitment to education and for taking a positive, proactive role in the lives of our students. This conference will be instrumental in furthering the instruction and experience of every child who participates and will give students a unique opportunity to be more enlightened about this unforgettable and tragic segment of histoiy. The events that took place during the Holocaust are tremendously important and historical. The citizens of the United States of America have learned indispensable lessons that are vital in conveying to our future generations the seriousness and gravity of these experiences of the past. I extend my thanks to all those who have worked so hard to prepare for this outstanding conference. Your contributions will serve to promote learning, awareness and respect among all students, teachers and participants. Again, welcome to the Holocaust Education Conference, and best wishes for a successful event. 101 N. CARSON STREET ? CARSON CME, NEVADA 89701 ? TELEPHONE: (775) 6 8 4 - 5 6 7 0 ? FAX:(775)684-5683 555 E. WASHINGTON AVENUE, SUITE 5 1 0 0 ? LAS VECAS, NEVADA 89101 ? TELEPHONE: ( 7 0 2 ) 4 8 6 - 2 5 0 0 ? FAX:(702)486-2505 Sincerely, -KENNY C. GUINN Governor kac (O) 3019 A Welcome to 2005 Holocaust Education Conference Survivors of the Holocaust - Promise of a New Spring It is my great pleasure as Chairperson of the Governor's Advisory Council on Education Relating to the Holocaust to welcome you to the 2005 Student-Teacher Holocaust Education Conference. In view of today's world events, the study of the Holocaust becomes more relevant than ever. We hope that you are enriched by today's program and take home with you enlightening and important information that will serve as a life guide for your future. It is also my pleasure to affectionately welcome my dear friend Gerda Weissmann Klein to Las Vegas. She has been here many times to share her story and experiences in this sad history. We thank Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson for their vision and generosity in continuously helping to make this Conference happen. I would also like to thank our dedicated committee members who have made this Conference possible. Members of the Governor's Council Edythe Katz Yarchever, Chairperson Doug Linger, Co-Chair Judy Mack, Tresasurer Rabbi Sanford Akselrad Dr. Bruno Borenstein Martha Gould Robin Greenspun Duane L. Lawrence Terry Mannion Dr. Vernon Mattson Dr. Leonard Weinberg Agenda Time Room Topic/Presenter/Facilitator 3:15-3:45 102-204 Teacher/Student Check-in and Snack 3:50-4:50 Session I 302 303 304 305 Living Voices: Through the Eyes of a Friend Living Voices: Through the Eyes of a Friend Living Voices: Through the Eyes of a Friend Living Voices: Through the Eyes of a Friend 4:50 - 5:00 Break 5:00-6:00 Session 2 107 207 301 302 303 304 305 401 Presenter Ben Lesser Lida Lebovic Bill Corwin Mary Temple 2nd Generation: Dr. Bruno Borenstein, Naomi Phillips, and Mitchell Gilbert Sasha Semenoff Fern Chenin Henry Schuster Facilitator Jeremy Derkovitz Tillie Gordon Rita and Hank Stein Pat Gregorka Michelle Sparks Ermiene and Jim Mallinger Anita Carmine Patsy Kart 6:00 - 6:10 Break 6:10-6:40 6:40 - 7:40 7:40-8:00 8:00 102-206 Welcome - Myra Berkovits Invocation - Rabbi Sanford Akselrad Dinner Introduction of Keynote Speaker - Edythe Katz Yarchever Keynote Speaker - Gerda Weissmann Klein Autograph Tables Conference closes/ Parent pick-up ABOUT OUR KEYNOTE SPEAKER - GERDA WEISSMAN KLEIN In 1939, 15 year-old Gerda Weissman's life would change forever as German troops invaded her home in Beilsko, Poland. Her brother Artur was ordered to a labor camp and she was cruelly separated from her parents and sent to a slave-labor camp. This day would be forever ingrained in Gerda's memory, as it was the last time she would ever see her family again. Never losing hope, Klein would spend the next three years in a succession of slave-labor camps, until she was forced to walk in a 350-mile death march in which 2,000 women were subjected to exposure, starvation and arbitrary execution. Despite such atrocities, Klein never lost the will to survive. Klein's account of living through the Holocaust is documented in her autobiography, All But My Life, in print for 47 years in 55 editions, which has attained the status of a classic. The book depicts her view of the dark years o f the Holocaust, a progression that ultimately led to her liberation from a death march by her future husband, Kurt Klein, an American intelligence officer. Her testimony is so compelling that All But My Life has become required reading in some school districts throughout the United States. The Klein's story is portrayed in the film, Testimony, a permanent exhibit at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington D.C. In June 1997, President Clinton appointed Klein to the council of the Holocaust Museum. In 1995 the HBO documentary, On Survivor Remembers, won a TV Emmy Award, two Cable Ace Awards, and an Oscar from the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences. In the film, Gerda Klein recounts some of her wartime experiences. Mrs. Klein's constant striving for the preservation of human rights and dignity has earned her seven Doctorates of Humane Letters, along with countless other awards. Gerda Weissmann Klein wrote Promise of a New Spring so that her grandchildren would begin to understand her experiences during the Holocaust. Copyright Leading Authorities Press DR. BRUNO BORENSTEIN My father was born in Poland in 1903, and he immigrated to Vienna, Austria when he was about twenty years old to pursue a law career. He earned a degree in law, later becoming part -owner of a company manufacturing soaps and toothpaste. My mother was born in Vienna in 1908 and was educated in languages and history. My parents married in 1936 and my brother was born in Vienna, three years later. My mother and brother were able to escape from Vienna in June 1939. At that time, my father realized what were happening in Austria after its annexation by Germany in 1938 and the tragedy of Kristailinacht later that year. The Germans gave my father minimal compensation and took his factory from him. My parents were forced out of their apartment and had to live in the cellar of their building, while their property was sold and their apartment was taken from them. This terrifying separation of our family was alleviated when my father was able to leave from Vienna at the end of August 1939, just prior to the beginning of World War II. None of my grandparents were able to escape the German killing machine. I was bom in New York City in 1941. I went to college and medical school and began to raise a family. FERNADE CHENIN Fernande Chenin was bom in Paris, France July 14, 1927. After the accidental death of her mother in 1933 when she was six years old, her father put her and her brother into a Jewish orphanage. She is the youngest of seven children; three brothers and three sisters. Her ninety-one year old sister is living in Paris and she has a sister living in Las Vegas. One of her brothers died in Auschwitz and another in Germany during World War II. Another brother died in Paris last year and one of her remaining sisters died about twenty years ago. She left the orphanage when she was 14 years old and moved into a Jewish home for young girls. She finished high school and since Jewish girls were not allowed to go to college, she had to choose between being a seamstress and making hats. She chose making hats at the ORT school in Paris. She was transferred to another school with younger children and she worked in the kitchen. On July 22, 1944, a week after her 17th birthday and a month before the Allies liberated Paris, Fernande was arrested with 71 children and 13 adults. The group arrived to a transit camp outside of Paris called Drancy. On that night French collaborators with the help of the Gestapo, identified all the Jewish children's homes and arrested over 500 children between the ages of 13 months and 18 years old. Out of all the children arrested on that fateful day, only 15 sun/ived, including Femade. She remained in Drancy for over a week and was then herded into a boxcar, and the final destination was Auschwitz. Three months later she was sent to Lubal, a work camp, where she remained until the end of the war. On May 8, 1945 the Russian Army liberated Fernande. She survived one of the darkest periods in the history of mankind, the Holocaust. Fernande met her husband Simon Chenin in Cleveland, Ohio. They were married on January 4, 1959. The Chenin's had three children, Alan, Lori and Sheryl. The family moved to Las Vegas in 1963, over 41 years ago. Mrs. Chenin worked in the transportation department of the Clark County School District, retiring after 22 years of loyal service. On August 17, 1995, Mrs. Chenin's husband passed away. The family has grown to 8 grandchildren. BILL CORWIN Bill Corwin was born in the Bronx, New York in 1925. He grew up in a so-called "normal" society, which unfortunately included a number of lessons in "good-old" American anti-Semitism. Nonetheless, nothing in his background prepared him for the soul-wrenching events he was to witness toward the end of World War II. Mr. Corwin was a combat infantry soldier, attached to General George Patton's 3rd Army, when his outfit took part in the liberation of the Mauthausen death camp in Austria. No one can tell Bill Corwin, "It never happened." He was there! MITCHELL GILBERT Mitch Gilbert is a native of Brooklyn, New York and has been a Jewish communal professional for twenty-five years. He is a social worker by training and is currently the Executive Director of the Jewish Family Service Agency here is Las Vegas. Mitch's mother was born in Mannheim, Germany and experienced the traumas of being a Jewish child in Germany in the 1930's. Immediately after Hitler took power in 1932, his mom was thrown out of the public school system in her town and her father lost his job. As time went on more and more rights were taken away from Jewish families in Germany. The family applied for visas to the United States. The visa did not arrive until the spring of 1938 and they were among the last Jewish refugee's allowed to flee Nazis persecution. LIDA LEBOVIC Lida Lebovic was born in Czechoslovakia in 1928. Ten years later Czechoslovakia was occupied by the Hungarians and later by the Germans on March 19, 1944. Shortly after she was taken to the ghetto with her mother and fourteen year old younger sister. By May 1944, they were transported to Auschwitz where Dr. Josef Mengele separated them from one another. She later learned they had been killed in the gas chamber. Lida was given a life sentence at hard labor, and was transported to a labor camp near Hamburg where she worked until March 1945. As the war was coming to an end, she was evacuated to Bergen-Beisen Concentration Camp. Following her liberation, she was reunited with her older brother and sister. After returning to Czechoslovakia, she met and married her husband, Willy Lebovic, and in 1947 immigrated to Chile where her daughter, Sonya, was born. In 1963, before the Communists occupied Chile, she moved to Los Angeles. In 1997, Lida and Willy moved to Las Vegas. They are the proud grandparents of three grandchildren, and hope to celebrate their 60th wedding anniversary together. BEN LESSER Ben Lesser was born in Krakow, Poland in 1928. He had two brothers and two sisters, but he and his sister Lola are the only remaining survivors out of a family of seven. Ben is a survivor of many ghettos and camps, including the notorious Auschwitz and Buchenwald. He was liberated from Dachau. In 1947, Ben arrived in the United States and settled in Los Angeles where he married his wife, Jean, in 1950. They have two daughters and four grandchildren. He was a real estate broker for 30 years and retired to Las Vegas in 1995. HENRY SCHUSTER Henry Schuster was born in 1928 in a small town in southern Germany. Of the 1,300 residents, one hundred were Orthodox Jews. The Schuster family can be traced back to living in the same region since 1683. When his father died in 1935, Henry was placed in a Jewish orphanage in Frankfurt where he experienced first-hand the horrors of Kristallnacht He left Germany in 1939 as part of a children's transport to Paris, France. However, as the Germans entered Paris from the east, the entire group of 150 children left the city by the south to take refuge in southern France, out of reach of the Germans. In 1941, Henry and ninety-nine other children traveled by way of Spain and Portugal to the United States. Henry attended high school in Shreveport, Louisiana, speaking no English. By the time he graduated three years later, it was with honors. Between 1944 and 1946, Henry served in the US Army, spending some of his duty in Germany. After being discharged, he studied at Technical College in New York City. Upon graduation, he met Anita Kleiman, with whom he will celebrate' their 57th wedding anniversary in September. In 1969, the family moved to Los Angeles where he worked in the construction industry and operated a woodworking factory. In 1993, Henry and Anita retired to Las Vegas where they have been very active in the Jewish community. The Schuster's founded and organized the Holocaust Survivors Group of Southern Nevada. Henry is now serving his third term as president. Henry is proud of his three living children; Alan who is active in the theater in New York, Michael who received his PhD from the University of Hawaii, and Renee who specializes in teaching children with learning disabilities Henry and Anita have five grandchildren. SASHA SEMENOFF (ABRAM SHAPIRO) Sasha Semenoff was born in Riga, Latvia. He remembers growing up in a wonderful Jewish family surrounded by his grandparents, parents, and an older sister. Music was an integral part of his life. In 1940, life changed when a Communist revolution occurred in Latvia. In the war-like atmosphere, there were no celebrations or holidays. Sasha, also known as Abram, was forced to join the army to help the Russians fight the Germans, but was able to escape. On July 2, 1941 the same night that the Nazis occupied Latvia, Sasha's father was taken away and killed. Abram and his mother moved to the Riga ghetto, where he was able to keep his music alive by playing his mandolin. After his mother perished in a huge "selection", which eliminated the women's ghetto, he kept alive by working in several factories including Kasernierung Lunta, where he worked in the kitchen as well as doing various labor jobs. Eventually, he was sent by freighter to Danzig and then to Gotendorf from where he was liberated by the Russians. While in a Displaced Persons Camp, he was given a violin and began to play once again. His uncle, Simon Semenoff, brought him to New York where he began to work as a musician. He moved to Las Vegas with his wife, Sylvia, where he performed for many years as Sasha Semenoff. He is proud of the fact that he discovered his sister was alive in Riga, and was able to help her family immigrate to Israel. Sasha has a son and two grandsons. He continues to work as a musician on the Las Vegas strip. MARY TEMPLE Mary Temple was born in Vienna, Austria. A week before her 10th birthday, in March 1938, Hitler occupied Austria. At the age of seventeen, her sister was part of the first illegal group to go to Palestine on June 9, 1938. Mary and her parents left for Shanghai on November 20, 1938. In April 1943, the Japanese government made the families move into a ghetto in Shanghai where they remained until November 1948. Mary married an American Gl and moved to the United States in 1948. She and her husband have three children and six grandchildren. Our Special Thanks To The Sands Expo and Convention Center -Sheldon and Dr. Miriam Adelson Governor's Council on Education Relating to the Holocaust Jewish Federation of Las Vegas Clark County School District Holocaust Education Conference Committee Edythe Katz Yarchever - Committee Chairperson Governor's Council on Education Relating to the Holocaust Myra Berkovits - Conference Chairperson, CCSD Sharon Carter - Clark County School District Marianne Corr - St. Viator's Catholic School Jackie Fleekop - Congregation Ner Tamid Carole Helfand - Sperling Holocaust Library Shirley Kravitz - Sperling Holocaust Library Carol Loeffelholz - St. Viator's Catholic School Roz Sbarra - Governor's Council Beth Weinberger Graphics - Chrissy Kirk Photograher - David Weinstein Conference Assistants Paula Fogel Sherill Hogeg Maggie Johnson Jeanne Lange Conference Speakers Dr. Bruno Borenstein Fem Chenin Bill Corwin Mitchell Gilbert Lida Lebovic Ben Lesser Naomi Phillips Henry Schuster Sasha Semenoff Mary Temple Conference Facilitators Anita Carmine Jeremy Derkovitz Pat Gregorka Tillie Gordon Patsy Kart Ermiene and Jim Mallinger Michelle Sparks Rita and Hank Stein Student Assistants Congregation Ner Tamid St. Viator's Catholic School Promise of a New Spring 2005 Holocaust Conference Notes