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July 12, 2013     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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July 12, 2013
 

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, JULY 12, 2013 PAGE 3A The Holocaust Memo- rial Research and Educa- tion Center of Florida in Maitland has recently announced a renovation project that will signifi- cantly expand its perma- nent exhibit.-The project will be funded by a grant from the Frances and Jo- seph Victor Fund at the Community Foundation of Central Florida. one of more than 400 charitable funds established since 1994. The. grant will pay for "the purchase of new ex- hibit cases, and a minor reconfiguration so that the museum can display Holocaust-era family mem- orabilia recently donated to the Holocaust Center. as well as a new display case for Nazi items in the Holocaust Center's collection. According to Pam Kanch- er, executive director at the Holocaust Center in Maitland, the donation was "'perfect timing." The Holo- caust Center, built in the mid-1980s, has'not made any substantial changes to its permanent display, although it hosts tempo- rary exhibits throughout the year. "What was state-of-the- art 30 years ago isn't as eye-catching as it was." she says. "More important, over the years we have received a number of amazing items for our archives, things that ought to be displayed for the public so they can have a better sense of the history we are sharing. The Community Foundatibn has made it possible to improve our exhibit, and we are hon- ored to have such a great partnership with them." The permanent display at the Holocaust Center has scarcely changed since it was built in the mid-1980s. spun Vl: By Suzan Hagstrom Special to the Heritage When Jewish Holocaust survivor Helen Garfinkel Greenspun first returned to her hometown of Chmielnik. Poland, in 1992, the synagogue was riddled with swastikas and other graffiti, The gray and crumbling building had been boarded up since World War II, so she could not enter. The townspeople were guarded and unfriendly, and a few individu- als even chastised her driver for bringing Greenspun to Chmielnik. The reception was the opposite in 2008 and 2009 when Greenspunvisited.again. Chmielnik's mayor kissed her hand and escorted her into the synagogue--though still a shell of its former self for cultural performances high- lighting the town's Jewish past. Dor Shalom meeting Aug. 9 Dor Shalom will gather for a potluck Shabbat at 6 p.m. Aug. 9 in Longwood. In- terested in attending? Visit www.jfgo.org to register today. The event will be held in a private home and address information will be sent to attendees prior to the event. All attendees are asked to bring their favorite vegetarian kosher-style dish prepared for at least 12 people. It will be a great evening to connect with old friends and make new friends, says an event organizer. Everyone 40 and above are welcome, but you'll need to RSVP to save yourself a seat at the table. Dor Shalom is a social and educational network powered by the Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando for married and single adults ages 40 and above. Dor Shalom is a community resource for JEWISH: Issues, Current Events Topics, CulturalAware- ness, Personal and Spiritual Growth, Social & Professional Networking. Temple Israel hosts community Tisha B'Av service A community Erev Tisha B'AW service will be held at Temple Israel at 8:30 p.m. Monday, July 15, in the Rein Sanctuary. Temple Israel is at 50 S. Moss Road, Winter Springs. Congregants from Congregation Beth Am, Congregation Ohev ShalOm and South- west Orlando Jewish Congregation will join members of Temple Israel for the service. Anyone else in the community who wishes to attend is cordially invited. Tisha B'Av is the Jewish national period of mourning. The "three weeks" between the 17th of Tammuz and Tisha B'Av have historically been days of misfortune and calamity for the Jewish people. During this time, among other things, both the First and Second Temples were destroyed. Consequentlg, there is a reason to minimizejoy and celebration. No weddings are held, there is no music, nor are there haircuts or shaving. As on Yom Kippur, Tisha B'Av is a day of fasting. The synagogue service begins after sundown with Ma'ariv fo!lowed by the reading of the Book of Lamentations. The community observance of Tisha B "Av will be continued the following morning with services at the community minyan held at 7:45 a.m. at the Jewish Academy of Orlando. For more information or to get directions, contact Temple Israel office personnel at 407-647-3055 or go to www.tiflorida.org. Temple Israel membership weekend set for Julg 26-2s From Friday July 26 to Sunday July 28, Temple Israel will host a membership weekend to encourage current and prospective members to share Shabbat together. On Friday evening current TI members will invite prospective members to their homes for Shabbat dinner and then accompany them to Kabbalat Shabbat services and Oneg Shabbat at Temple Israel in Winter Springs. The Friday night Shabbat dinners will include at least two longterm Temple Israel members, a recent member and prospective members. This will give the prospective members an opportunity to get to know more about Temple Israel. Prospective members will also be encouraged to attend Shabbat services withcur- rent members on Saturday morning followed by a Kiddush luncheon and a "Judaism in a Nutshell" discussion with Rabbi Joshua Neely. There will also be a Tot Shabbat program run by Jen Cohen at 11:30 a.m. On Saturday evening prospective members are also encouraged to participate in a lively musical Havdalah service followed by a wine and cheese and dessert reception. Temple Israel also will host Sunday morning services followed by a bagel breakfast and a movie sponsored by the Adult Education Committee. The gift shop and the playground will be open. While it is possible to attend all of the weekend's festivities, everyone is encouraged to attend at least one or more of the events, says an event planner. If you would like to host a Shabbat dinner or if you would like to attend a Shabbat dinner, please contact the office at 407-647-3055. Each host will have two member families and one prospective family joining them. For further information about this event please call Elliott Davis at 561-573-5779 oremail him at elliottdavis~mc@ aol.com. There was talk of restoring the long abandoned and neglected structure that dates to 1638. Greenspun vowed to return if she were alive and in good health. "If they restore the synagogue, I'll go back. but it will be my last trip," she declared. Last month the syna- gogue.---replastered, newly painted and renovated to its former magnificence de- buted as a museum of Jewish history. Greenspun, now 86, attended as a special guest. During the opening ceremo- nies stie was asked to stand inside a replica of the original wooden bima, a new glass bima designed to emit light and symbolize life. Overcome with emotion, she looked up at the balcony where he.r mother had sat for Sabbath services. Greensphn was nearly speechless, which is unchar- acteristic of her. In April the Holocaust MemOrial Resource and Education Center of Cen- tral Florida paid tribute to her tireless volunteerism and 32 years of public speaking about her World War II experience. "Words cannot describe." she said many times during this most recent visit--her fourth--to Poland. Besides visiting Chmielnik, Greenspun returned for the first time to Czestochowa where she, her brother and three sisters were exploited as slave labor in Hasag am- munition factories. Officials of Polontex S.A, a textile manu- facturer now operating at the site of brutal Nazi work camps, warmly welcomed Greenspun, gently asked questions and at- tentively listened to her stories, "I have such a feeling," she said noting that people's empathy surprised her more than the preservation of Jewish landmarks. "Even in the last five years I notice a change. It must be the younger generations. The difference is education." Artur Gacek. the president of Polontex, said Greenspun is the first J~wish Holocaust survivor that he knows of who has returned to the property. Newspaper and television re- porters were there to record the meeting and interview Greenspun, resulting in more personal stories about World War II. Gacek's maternal grandfather was imprisoned and killed in Auschwitz in 1940 on allegations that he had helped German spies. Krzysztof Straus, a lawyer, guided Greenspun across town to show her the site of another Hasag factory where Benjamin Turocy Helen Greenspun stands at the new glass bima designed to emit light and symbolize life. Suzy Hagstrom The synagogue Helen Greenspun attended as a child in Chmielnik, Poland, has been renovated. Part of the building dates to 1638. thousands of Jews were liter- ally worked to death. Inspired by survivors he had met there and by his ~family's Jewish neighbors. Straus made a commemorative stone plaque. He showed Greenspun under- ground bunkers that had been used as jails and a field where roll call took place. Straus encouraged Greens- pun to visit Czestochowa's new Holocaust memorial in a vacant field near the Warta River and the town's new shop- ping center, The memorial comprises a remnant of the ghetto's brick wall adorned with a Star of David made of railroad tracks. A copy of the transport list that sent an estimated 40.000 Czesto- chowa Jews to their deaths in Treblinka in 1942 is displayed inside a transparent marker. Nearly all of Chmieinik's 10,000 Jews, including Greens- pun's parents and younger siblings, were also gassed in Treblinka. The "town's cur- rent population of 4,000 does not include a single Jew. But since 2003, Chmielnik has conducted an annual Jewish festival, which this year co- incided with the synagogue's reopening. Each time Greenspun re- turns to Poland. her friends ask whether she is afraid. Something inside her. Greens- pun said, pulls her back to her hometown. "I'm not so close to Chmielnik. but the memories thSt I have are close to Chmielnik. The love for my parents makes m~go.'" Greenspun. who has verbal- ly sparred with neo-Nazis and skinheads in public schools, is not easily intimidated. How- ever, a mysterious stranger who introduced himself as a relative of her elementary school teacher, Zosia Zwolska, gave her pause. On the spur of the moment, in between two of Chmielnik's scheduled ceremonies, the friendly man gave Greenspun a tour of Chmielnik. Along the way he stopped to make a photocopy of a 1936 photograph showing a 10-year-old Greenspun with her schoolmates and Mrs. Zwolska. While delighted to re- ceive such a personal souvenir and see old parts of town that hadn't changed, Greenspun felt the grip of fear. "I was Greenspun on page 14A