Today, Friday, January 27, is International Holocaust Remembrance Day. Designated by United Nations, the date of January 27 commemorates the day on which the Auschwitz concentration camp was liberated in 1945. The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum states, “On this annual day of commemoration, the UN urges every member state to honor the six million Jewish victims of the Holocaust and millions of other victims of Nazism and to develop educational programs to help prevent future genocides.”
To help you find ways to mark Holocaust Remembrance Day while connecting with the OFJCC community, check out these upcoming programs or streaming film recommendations.
1. Near Normal Man — Near Normal Man is a half-hour documentary film, told in a first-hand account by Ben Stern, a Polish Jew, who survives two ghettos, nine concentration camps and two death marches. The Nazis identify him as one of the dangerous Jews of the Warsaw Ghetto.
Charlene Stern is the daughter of Holocaust survivor Ben Stern and former guest speaker at the OFJCC. She is the director of the film Near Normal Man, now streaming on popular video services.
Charlene told the OFJCC, “The greatest act that my father, who is now 101 years of age, accomplished in his life was not to survive the terrors, six years of slavery, beatings, starvation, whippings, and gun shots—that by itself was astounding and miraculous: Ben Stern survived all of that and was liberated. More than all of that, my father’s greatest act in life, is the one that has blessed him, my beloved mother (z”l), his future family and the world—Ben chose to let go of hatred. In that moment, he freed himself, his children, future grandchildren and more. He defied what had happened to him even while remembering all the pain and loss. He held on to Hashem with his broken heart. Over time and with the many blessings that he received in his 101+ years of life, his broken heart learned to keep beating with love, kindness and generosity of spirit. His Jewish neshamah [spirit], hope and love of people and life is the gift he brings to us all. Learn well about my father and the Holocaust. Some day you may need to let go of hatred.”
To learn more about Ben and the Near Normal Man film, please click here.
2. Remembrance of Things Present — The L.A.-based Braid Theater presents the only Bay Area performance of this theatrical production live at the Oshman Family JCC on Monday, 2/6.
In Remembrance of Things Present, the descendants of Holocaust survivors finally tell their own stories, as the legacy of the past imprints pain… hope… and healing.
View the trailer: 30 Second Trailer: Remembrance of Things Present – YouTube
3. Woman in Gold — Woman in Gold is a major motion picture, released in 2015, that tells the story of the Gustav Klimt painting of Adele Bloch-Bauer. Originally owned by Bloch-Bauer’s family, the painting was appropriated by the Nazis during the war and made its way to Austria. In order to assert her rights, Maria Altmann, a Jewish refugee and the niece of Bloch-Bauer, sued the Austrian government to restore the painting to its rightful owner.
In case you missed it: in honor of International Holocaust Remembrance Day, the OFJCC hosted Peter Altmann on Wednesday, 1/25. The Woman in Gold, by Gustav Klimt, is a portrait of Altmann’s great aunt, Adele Bloch-Bauer. It was one of five Klimt paintings stolen from the family by the Nazis in World War II. Peter Altmann discussed the person, the painting, the artist, the movie and her journey through time. He also spoke about his wonderful mother, Maria Altmann, who escaped the Nazis and then had to fight for the return of her painting.