Historic, Rare Assembly As Surviving Passengers Signed First Ever U.S. Resolution Acknowledgement Of Its Role In The Tragedy Of The Watershed Voyage
MIAMI BEACH, FLORIDA (December 15, 2009)-- “The significance of the St. Louis voyage gave the Nazis the green light to the final solution,” said SS St. Louis survivor Rudolph Jacobson. As another passenger remarked, “Some of us may have found a way to forgive, but we will never forget.”
Held mere miles from where the SS St. Louis’s asylum efforts were rebuked in 1939 by the U.S. government, 33 surviving passengers (nearly 50% of those still living) gathered at the Eden Roc Renaissance Resort in Miami Beach, Florida (www.thestlouisproject.com) on Sunday, December 13, 2009 from around the globe joined by representatives of 13 prominent world organizations and institutions, world and U.S. dignitaries, and Jewish community leaders to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the ship’s ill-fated voyage. Global historical significance was found in this rare, never before assembly joined together by The National Foundation for Jewish Continuity, Inc. (NFJC) that underwrote the travel and hotel accommodations for all SS St. Louis survivors and spouses to enable them to reunite in Miami Beach, and receive and sign the first ever U.S. acknowledgement of the country’s role in the tragedy of the SS St. Louis.
More than 250 Jewish community leaders attended to honor the surviving passengers’ courage and survival, who --ranged in age from 71 to 91--and traveled to re-unite from as far as Tel Aviv, Israel; Manchester, England; and Toronto, Canada and from 27 U.S. cities: Arizona (Tucson), California (Camarillo, San Mateo, Ventura), Colorado (Denver), Florida (Aventura, Boynton Beach, Delray Beach), Georgia (Atlanta), Illinois (Northbrook, Chicago), Michigan (Kalamazoo), New Jersey (Highland Park, Lakehurst, Neptune, Paramus), New York (Bronx, Buffalo, Forest Hills, Ithaca, Kew Gardens, Princeton Junction), Ohio (Loveland), Pennsylvania (Elkins Park), Tennessee (Memphis), Washington (Seattle), and Wisconsin (Menomonee Falls).
A Privilege To Honor These 'Real Life’ Heroes And Their Families Who Fought Devastating Odds Seven Decades Ago
As Howard Kaye, president of The National Foundation for Jewish Continuity Inc. shared, “This is truly a landmark event reconnecting SS St. Louis passengers living today with major world institutions that accepted an important piece of world history for public display around the globe that may be the beginning of America recognizing the possible consequences of its actions, or might I say inactions, dating back 70 years ago. It has been a privilege to honor these 'real life’ heroes and their families who fought devastating odds seven decades ago, and felt it important to travel far distances in their senior years--while many are in declining health--to once again unite to bear witness to the watershed voyage so that the world and future generations best understand the SS St. Louis’s place in world history.”
ONE SHIP: 938 Refugees—ONE DECISION: That Changed The Course of History Forever
SS St. Louis survivor Rudolph Jacobson noted “It is a learning experience every time we come to these things, it gets emotional” as he and other survivors shared their stories of the ill-fated voyage that began in May 1939 when the SS St. Louis left Hamburg, Germany with more than 900 hopeful Jewish refugees on board. Bound for Cuba, these Jews who had survived the Kristallnacht pogrom believed they were headed for a better life. Despite having valid visas, Cuba turned them away. On June 6th, after 12 days of waiting in the port of Havana and off the Miami coast, the United States government made the ill-fated decision to refuse admittance. This ship of destiny carried the fate of millions. When the American, Canadian and Cuban governments refused to accept the Jews it sent a clear message to Adolf Hitler that the Jewish people were expendable. The SS St. Louis returned to Europe, where most of the passengers found themselves under Nazi rule and many later perished in the Holocaust.
“This unprecedented assembly with the surviving SS St. Louis passengers publicly signing the landmark U.S. Senate Resolution 111 among world and U.S. dignitaries serves as further testimony to the fact that the SS St. Louis voyage was an internationally significant turning point in world history, its ramifications, and its relevance today as intolerance, bigotry and genocide continue on a global scale,” added Kaye. “Holding the commemoration the second day of Hanukkah gave added meaning to this commemoration when the Jewish community united with world leaders to personally witness and engage in becoming an active part of writing a new page in world history, connecting them with their heritage to protect, honor and extol the virtues of their birthright and legacy for future generations.”
The First-Ever US Acknowledgement Of Its Role In The Tragedy Of The SS St. Louis Signed By Surviving Passengers For Global Public Display
The historic United States Senate Resolution 111 legislation was sponsored by U.S. Senator Herb Kohl [WI], co-sponsored by Senator George V. Voinovich [OH], Senator Sam Brownback [KS], and Senator Ron Wyden [OR], and then unanimously passed by the U.S. Senate on May 19, 2009 that acknowledges the ramifications of the U.S. refusal to grant more than 900 Jewish refugees onboard a safe haven from Nazi persecution (view video: http://thestlouisproject.com/?page_id=144). World institutions that accepted the signed resolution at the commemorative event for their preservation and public display will include an unprecedented group of world institutions: the U.S. Center for Legislative Archives (National Archives) that houses the most significant Congressional documents; United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; State of Israel; Yad Vashem; Simon Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance; USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History and Education; Oskar Schindler Family Archives [Schindler’s List]; Jewish Museum of Berlin; American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC); Jewish Museum of Florida; and The National Foundation For Jewish Continuity, Inc.
Program Included Debut Of “The Trial of Franklin D. Roosevelt” and Award Presentation to US Congressman Ron Klein
After the Vice Mayor of the City of Miami Beach Deede Weithorn presented the passengers with a proclamation of welcome, attendees viewed the debut of Robert Krakow’s original thought-provoking play, “The Trial of Franklin D. Roosevelt” set before the Eternal Court of Justice exploring the historical and political forces influencing Roosevelt’s policies regarding the plight of Jewish refugees. Six survivors served as jurors. The program concluded with a Hanukkah Menorah lighting with SS St. Louis passengers and a special beachfront dedication ceremony. U.S. Congressman Ron Klein, who represents Florida’s 22nd Congressional District and serves as a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee for which he is the Vice Chair of the Middle East Subcommittee, was presented the “Passengers’ Appreciation” Award in recognition of his efforts in authoring and spearheading the passage of the Florida State Holocaust Education Act while he served as Florida State Senator that mandated the teaching of the lessons of the Holocaust in all of the state’s public schools.
Participating special guests, speakers and dignitaries included 33 surviving passengers, including Herbert Karliner, Liesl Loeb, and Col. Phil Freund (U.S. Army Retired); US Congressman Ron Klein, a member of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, who received the Passengers’ Appreciation Award; Ofer Bavly, Consul General of the State of Israel; Mechtild Ewert, Deputy Consul General of the Federal Republic of Germany; Richard Hunt, Director for The U.S. Center for Legislative Archives (National Archives); Scott Miller, Director of Curatorial Affairs of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum; Ari Zev, Director of Administration, USC Shoah Foundation Institute for Visual History And Education; Eric Fusfield, Deputy Director of the Center for Human Rights and Public Policy, B’nai B’rith International; Rev. Rosemary Schindler, Trustee: Oskar Schindler Family Archives; Dr. Irving A. Smokler, President, American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the largest international Jewish humanitarian aid organization in the world today; Marcia Jo Zerivitz, Founding Executive Director, Jewish Museum of Florida; Robert Krakow, playwright/documentarian, Trustee for the U.S. Senate Resolution 111; and Howard Kaye, President, NFJC.
Event Committee included Jon and Bonnie (Sparaga) Kaye, The National Foundation For Jewish Continuity, Inc.; Arlene Herson, national chair of the Legacy of Light Society of the United States Holocaust Museum in Washington, D.C.; Nancy and Barry Dershaw, Next Generations; Rabbi Barry J. Konovitch, event chairman for the 50th Anniversary Of The SS St. Louis Voyage; Betty Heisler Samuels, Historian And Author: “The Last Minyan To Leave Havana”; Estrella Behar; Rabbi Yossi Denburg; Dr. Irvin And Katherine Fleishman; Mitchell Fogel, Esq.; Guy Fronstin, Esq.; Melissa Fronstin; Chuck Gaspari, Esq.; Ruth Ann Kalish; Alan Kaye; Pamela Kaye; Leslie Kantor; Ralph Kier; Gary Lesser, Esq.; Stephen Lippy; Barry Mankow; Jay Shapiro, and Elizabeth Weprin.
The National Foundation for Jewish Continuity, Inc.’s (NFJC) mission is to promote, encourage, and preserve Jewish continuity through the arts. It was established to educate, and enlighten the various sectors and generations of the Jewish community on the significant worth/value of their Jewish birthright and challenge them to participate in protecting and continuing to honor the virtues of that birthright and legacy for future generations. NFJC works to achieve its vision through its development and/or underwriting of special events and educational programs, initiating meaningful partnerships and alliances in and outside of the Jewish community, and fulfilling grants using the arts -- from the performing to the fine arts -- as the primary medium. Headquartered in Boca Raton, NFJC is a non-profit private foundation that has applied for tax exempt status as a 501(c)(3) charity with the IRS. IRS approval is pending. Upon receiving its exempt status the Foundation will notify donors of the deductible/non-deductible portion of their contribution. For more information, contact The National Foundation for Jewish Continuity, Inc. at (561) 417-5099 or via email@example.com