Generations After

Events - Miami Holocaust Memorial Visit 2009

In September, we visited the Florida Holocaust Memorial the Miami Jewish Museum. See full article below Slideshow.



By Betty Silberman:

This past Labor Day Weekend, Jewish Federation of Sarasota Manatee sponsored a trip to Miami's Jewish Museum and the Holocaust Memorial. Dr. Henry Tenenbaum and Orna Nissan organized this amazing journey, with the help of Dr. Helen Fagin.

Fourteen participants from Sarasota headed out in two vans, joined in Miami by several other friends who traveled separately. We were a total of approximately twenty people. Shortly after arriving on Sunday, the group convened at the Jewish Museum, in downtown Miami. We were treated to a tour which included viewing a film on the history of this beautiful space, once a premiere shul for its Jewish citizens. As the city's Jewish population waned, the synagogue gradually fell into disarray.

Funds were allocated to its restoration, and the shul was designated a museum. The 'biemah' is still in place. There are a hundreds of fascinating photographs illustrating American Jewish life in the twentieth century. The remainder of the space is currently hosting the monumental artwork of Judy Chicago. All were amazed by her pieces - highlighting birth, freedom, contrasted by the atrocities of the Nazi regime.

The second day, however, was the focal point of our trip. Dr. Helen Fagin, a Holocaust survivor, ardent chronicler and activist, spearheaded this life altering tour. In conjunction with Avi Mizrachi, who headed construction of the Holocaust Memorial, we delved into the history of this stunning place. We convened at the Best Western Hotel on Monday morning, where Dr. Fagin gave treated us to an hour of behind-the-scenes history of the site. We learned how obstacles were overcome by the sheer tenacity of Dr. Fagin, who raised the funds, fought Miami's City Hall, as well as locals who challenged her goals on multiple levels. On every front, Dr. Fagin prevailed. She insisted that Israel be an intricate part of this memorial, as millions of European Jews sought to emigrate to the Holy Land. Jerusalem stone was chosen to reflect this connection. The only workers ultimately capable of installing the stone were Arab workers, who were flown to Miami from Israel. Stories of this nature kept our interest levels to the max, eclipsing the intense heat of the day. Dozens of panels of Italian granite displayed graphic photos of victims, as well as the names of previously unnamed thousands. While we experienced tremendous sadness and grief at this memorial, we left with resolve to keep the legacy alive.

Thank you one and all for giving us this uniquely powerful two days, which none of us will ever forget!

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