Annette van de Kamp-Wright, Editor of the Jewish Press
May 4 is Yom HaShoah, when our community will come together at 7 p.m. at Temple Israel to remember the victims and honor the survivors of the Holocaust. Several events are planned surrounding the commemoration.
On April 27 at 7 p.m. the film Swimming in Auschwitz will be shown at the Jewish Community Center.
According to IMDb, “Six Jewish women, from different countries and different backgrounds, found themselves deported to Auschwitz-Birkenau during the Holocaust. This film chronicles that experience through their eyes. Swimming in Auschwitz gives us a perspective of the camp, its surroundings and the Holocaust that we need to understand and remember, so that we never forget.”
The film is appropriate for high school students and adults. There is no cost to attend, and it is not necessary to RSVP.
One of the six women featured in the film is Holocaust survivor and this year’s Yom HaShoah keynote speaker Renee Firestone. She will be visiting Omaha May 2-4, and in addition to the community-wide Holocaust Commemoration, she will speak at several schools and at the Durham Museum’s Stanley and Dorothy Truhlsen Lecture Hall on Tuesday, May 3 at 6:30 p.m. Reservations for this lecture should be made by email to Reser- vations@DurhamMuseum.org.
Julie Bien, in the Jewish Journal, wrote: “Firestone’s life has included a number of remarkable episodes. Along with her brother Frank, she survived the death camps of the Holocaust. Her mother and sister were killed at Auschwitz, and her father succumbed to tuberculosis at the end of the war.
After the war, Firestone and her brother settled in Prague, where she attended the Prague School of Commercial Arts. In 1948, Renee and her husband Bernard, together with their infant daughter Klara, came to the United States where Renee and her husband built a successful career in fashion design. Renee began speaking publicly about her wartime experiences in the early 1980s; she was one of five Holocaust survivors to appear in Steven Spielberg’s 1998 documentary The Last Days.
May 4, together with her daughter Klara, Renee will meet with Omaha Jewish teens from all three synagogues, as well as other survivors at Temple Israel for the Yom HaShoah Youth program. Renee and Klara will speak on the topic “Why have you chosen to be involved as an activist in the prevention and awareness- raising of other genocides? Why are you involved with the Freedom Writers and other social justice projects?”
“The Youth Program provides a unique and valuable opportunity to students,” says Liz Feldstern, Executive Director of the Institute for Holocaust Education.
“They will interact with Renee and Klara as well as with local survivors, exchange ideas and place them in context. Some day, these youth will have to bear witness, so learning opportunities like these are invaluable.”
The Youth program is open to all Jewish students in grades 8-12th; it begins at 5:30 p.m. and dinner is included.
Immediately following the Youth Program, Renee will share her personal story with the community during the evening program, which begins at 7 p.m. in Temple Israel’s main sanctuary.