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November 11, 2011     Heritage Florida Jewish News
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November 11, 2011

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HERITAGE FLORIDA JEWISH NEWS, NOVEMBER 11, 2011 PAGE 3^ I -- Nicholson helps bring the future of surgical training to Orlando By Pamela Ruben Special to the Heritage Though Central Florida residents may be unfamiliar with his name, the contribu- tions of philanthropist, real estate developer, and member ofth'e local Jewish community Tony Nicholson have made a significant impact. Nicholson and his wife, Sonja, have been generous neighbors to the Orlando community for years and are most noted for their contri- butions to higher education on the University of Central Florida campus, with multiple buildings bearing the family name. Now Tony Nicholson has taken this dream of impacting others through advanced education and spun it around the globe, with Central Florida once again reaping the benefits. His latest philanthropic effort, The Nichoison Center for Surgical Advancement at Florida Hospital, recently had its grand opening, and promises to make the Orlando area a major destination for cutting-edge surgica ! train- ing. The 54,000-square-foot center at Florida Hospital Celebration is equipped with state-of-the-art surgical ro- botic equipment and will facilitate the teachingofmini- really invasive and robotic techniques by the experienced doctors viavideoconferencing andtelementoring. Programs byworld-class educators such as Dr. Vipul Patel from the Florida Hospital Global Ro- botics Institute, aworld leader in roboticprostatectomy, will annually train an expected 20,000 doctors worldwide, many of whom will be able to learn without leaving their own hospitals. The Orlando Business Journal noted that the Nicholson Centerwill have an annual impact up to $13 million and bring numerous jobs to the Central Florida area. As an encore, Nicholson plans to collaborale with the Sheba Medical Center, near Tel Aviv, through a partner- ship with Florida Hospital. "Head of hospital Zev Roth- stein eagerly awaits the sur- gical training center," says Nicholson. On March 21, Sheba and Florida Hospital signed a memorandum of understanding for interna- tional cooperation, which will solidify Sheba as a leader in minimally invasive and robotic surgery and focus on improving patient outcomes at the largest center for medi- cine in the Middle East. "It has always been my goal to use my creative skills to give back to the commu- nity," Nicholson says. "The Nicholson Surgical Centers will help. mankind in a way that was unavailable to them  in the past." "Tony and Sonja Nich- olson have been active in the community for many years. Their high regard for advanced education and athletic programs led to the sponsorship of the Nicholson School of Com- munications, which Tony lgicholson on page !9A Tony and Sonja Nicholson with a rendering of the Nich- olson Surgical Center at Florida Hospital. Holocaust survivor Helen Greenspun spea^:s at UCF By Samantha Henry Special. to the Heritage Helen Greenspun trans- ported an audience of some 23.0 University of Central Florida students and faculty from Oct. 17, 2011 to 1939 Poland. The day was the start of UCF's Diversity Week, which consists of programs that have the goal of promoting inclusion and acceptance. Before time travel com- menced, Assistant Director of UCF's Office of Diversity Barbara Thompson outlined Greenspun's background. A Polish accent from the backofthe room broke through the quiet before Greenspun herself appeared. The voice carried her listeners back so quickly, it seemed time would soon stop ticking. And then it was 1939 in Chmielnik, Poland, where Greenspun was born. When her family heard word of war breaking out, her father pre- pared the basement with food and provisions. People came to Chmielnik from surround- ing cities that the Germans had already been through. When the Germans finally broughtviolence to Chmielnik, Greenspun's family escaped to a fruit orchard as they heard shots firing. "Children, don't worry," her father said. "I pray to God." Greenspun's father was a religious man who raised his seven children in an Orthodox Jewish home. He walked to synagogue every day, twice a day. "Why ! talk today [is] Helen Greenspun because of my father,' Greens- .pun said. Her story of German brutal- ity toward her father pierced the silence of the UCF Student Union meeting room. Each person in the audience tried to grasp on to every word. A few German soldiers on mo- torcycles had seen her father walking home from synagogue one day. She said they taunted him and mocked his holy belongings before beating him. Greenspun herself was playing with friends out of sight, but not out of earshot. The Germans set two dogs on her father, and she heard screaming, but did not know it was his. She found him after the Germans had finished, and he was taken home. He never walked to synagogue after that experience. Greenspun and her sister were sent to a farm nearby to hide. There, they would milk cows three times a day. When the Germans came looking for Jews, the farmer hid them, but they Could not stay after that, and returned home. Then they began to wear the yellow Star of David according to German orders. Just before the High Holi- days, Greenspun saw the chaos in the marketplace of her little town. The Germans were gathering people to transport to labor camps in big trucks. Greenspunwas not of the mini- mum age of 16 that the Ger- mans required, but her older siblings were forced to go. Her mother "cried and cried," she said. So Greenspun's mother did the only thing she could do: She packed small packages of whatever bread they could spare and some warm socks. Greenspun was then sent to go after them to give them the packages. Once she found her brothers amidst the cacophony of screams, cries, and general tumult, she became mixed up in the group and was shoved into a truck on its way to the first of seven camps she would experience. Being seiarated from her mother and father gave her overwhelmingsadness, butshe said that it is "why I believe in God."After the trucks took he r and her brothers and sisters away, Chmielnik turned into a ghetto. If she had still been home, she would have been sent to the gas chambers in Treblinkawith the rest. If there was ever a moment fate became tangible, it was then. In the camps, there was 'Get Caught Can'ng' with JFS Each year Jewish Family Services responds to hun- dreds of calls from desperate families during their Get Caught Caring campaign. The goal of the program is to provide all families with the ability to have gifts for their children and food for their holiday meal. The an- nual drive relies on donations from the community to help ensure that each child on the list has at least one new gift to open during the holidays and a home cooked meal. According to the National Institute for Early Education Research, toys are essential for children to develop necessary motor skills. Studies have shown that innt toys--espe- cially--help brain growth and affect a child's rate of learning later in life. Play isessential for children to lead happy, healthy and productive lives. JFS is asking readers to help contribute to the development of a child in need by participat- ing in this year's Get Caught Caring campaign JFS is col- lecting new unwrapped toys or gift cards in denominations of $5, $10 or $20. Suggestions for toys include: Fisher-Price toys, Tonka trucks, children's quality puzzles, arts and crafts, board games, Legos, dolls, action figures and Hot Wheels. The holidays are also a great time to teach the concept of sharing to your children, says JFS. Ifyour children receive an abundance of gifts during the holidays, encourage them to donate one of their presents to a less fortunate child. You can also choose to make a donation of $18 or more on your child's behalf and they will be mailed a special certificate with their name printed on the front. Donations of toys, gift cards, food and checks can be dropped off or mailed to Jew- ish Family Services at 2100 Lee Road, Winter Park, FL 32789. Should your company or group (scouts, school class, rotary or community organi- zation) wish to conduct a toy drive on JFS' behalf, contact Adrienne Cooperman at 407- 644-7593, ext. 243 and she will help coordinate the drive. With just a simple toy, you can make aworld of difference in the life of a needy child, says JFS, which asks you to please ...Get Caught Caring! barely any food, and Greens- pun only had the clothes she wore. About once a month they could take a shower, and ona specified day a truck would unload clothes and shoes for the people to take, first come, first served. Later they were moved and Greenspun worked with munitions. In a garden nearby, they picked potatoes and carrots and stuffed her sister's large coat pockets with their secret gatherings. Once, they were caught and given a punish- ment of 25 lashes. The girls were only allowed three days to stay in the barracks to recover from any sickness or pain, or else they would be killed by the Nazis. There was "so much pain," Greenspun said. After, they tried everything to look healthy, to survive. In the cold, they never stopped looking for food. In a drawer somewhere, the girls once found a sandwich and shared it. Greenspun said any one would "scream and cry, 'shetook a bigger bite!'" As the American and Rus- sian armies approached, the prisoners were moved to dif- ferent camps. Greenspun was in seven in all: Skarzysko, Chestochowa, Bergen Belsen, Turkheim, Burgau, Dachau, and Allach. "So many girls died there," Greenspun said with sorrow. "We looked half-dead.". On a six-week march, some German civilians threw the prisoners clothes or food, and some soldiers would let them pick them up. Greenspun said she would see a barking dog or a butterfly and wish she could trade places with them to see her mother again. "I can't explain what starva- tion means," Greenspun said. "All you think about is when the bread will come." Finally they were liberated in 1945 by U.S. soldiers. She spent three months in a hospi- tal with typhus and later came to the United States. "A lot say the Holocaust did not happen--look," came the Polish accent as Greenspun held up pictures and docu- ments of hers from those years. Members of the audience craned their necks, moving side to side to attempt at a clear line of sight. The lines in her aging face wrote out only "strength" and "determination." "I don't care if you're white, should not harm another person," Greenspun explained. She told her au- dience lightheartedly, but sincerely, "If I see a squirrel on the road, I stop my car. I can't kill." Pam Kancher, executive director of the Holocaust Me- morial Resource and Educa- tion Center of Florida, beamed with pride as she described the center's 30 years of operation and its mission to eradicate anti-Semitism, racism, and prejudice, using the lessons of the Holocaust, including stories like Greenspun's. "I'm really quite proud of that mission," Kancher said. Kids must "learn to protect the rights of others as vigorously as they protect their own." That day Greenspun retired after speaking about her experience to thousands of audiences since 1981. Barbara Thompson presented her with agiftwrapped inblackand gold tissue paper. "She is my hero," said Thompson proudly. Samantha Henry is a jour: nalism student at UCF. Hebrew literature scholar to spea UCF "The Secret Text Behind the Biblical Test" will be the topic of the UCF Judaic Stud- ies Distinguished Lecturers Series scheduled for 10:30 a.m. Nov. 17. Dr. Yair Mazor, professor of Hebrew literature, will speak at the University of Central Florida main campus in Classroom Building I, room 220. Mazor is a professor of modern Hebrew literature and biblical literature at the University of Wisconsin-Mil- waukee. Mazor has authored 21 books and more than'240 articles and critical essays on modern Hebrew litera- ture, Hebrew prose fiction of the Enlightenment Pe- riod, comparative literature, Scandinavian literature, children's literature, biblical literature, and more. Mazor has earned many scholarly prizes and accolades, among them the Baron Prize for the most distinguished scholar in the field of Jewish stud- ies (1997); the Friedman Prize, a national award as a }'air Mazor distinguished scholar of He- brew studies (1998); and the Most Distinguished Teach- ing Award by the University of Wisconsin - Milwaukee (1999). Two of Mazor's books earned distingOished schol- arly awards from Tel Aviv University: "TheDynamics of Motifs in S.Y. Agnon's Fiction" (1979) and "A Well Wrought Enlightenment: The Compositional Poetics of the Hebrew Enlightenment Prose Fiction" .(1986). Some of his most recent books include: "Poetic Ac- robat: The Poetry of Ron- ny Someck" (2008); "Who Wrought the Bible? Unveiling the Bible's Aesthetic Secrets" (2009); "Israeli Poetry of the Holocaust" (2009). The Judaic Studies Pro- gram, now in its 28th year at UCF, offers the Distinguished Lecturers Series to the UCF and Central Florida Com- munity. This lecture is co- sponsored by Central Florida Hiilel and is open to the public and is free. Permits for parking should be secured through the yellow parking machines, available in the parking lots and garages, prior to the lec- ture. For campus maps and parking information, visit For further information, contact Dr. Moshe Peili, di- rector of the Judaic Studies Program at UOF, at 407-823- 5039 or 407-823-5129.