Heritage Florida Jewish News - Central Florida's Independent Jewish Voice

JNF honors Wise at Tree of Life dinner

 

Tess Wise

Jewish National Fund (JNF) will honor Tess Wise, founder of the Holocaust Memorial Resource and Education Center (HMREC) of Central Florida, with the Guardian of Israel Award at its annual Tree of Life™ Award Dinner at the Rosen Plaza Hotel on Tuesday, Nov. 18

Wise founded HMREC in 1980 and has worked for more than 17 years in a volunteer position as executive director of the Center. She was born in Poland and escaped from a concentration camp in 1943 at the age of 17. She and nine surviving relatives smuggled themselves into the American zone in Germany, where the United Nations relief organizations and American Jewish organizations cared for them. Since coming to the United States in 1947, Wise has made it her life's work to make sure the lessons of the Holocaust are never forgotten, presenting a proposal to the Federation and Valencia Community College to initiate Holocaust education in the public schools.

HMREC has been a focal point for national conferences on the Holocaust and on terrorism, has a speakers' bureau and a library. Wise has developed and implemented educational programs and curricula-now included in the Library of Congress-and in use throughout the country. She has organized an annual film and lecture series and consults in colleges and universities nationally.

Wise met her husband Abe upon fleeing to the U.S. and the couple wed in 1949. They have two children, Steven who lives in Israel with his wife Leora and their six children, and Ellen who lives in Orlando with her husband Mark and their two children. Tess and Abe were among the founding members of Jewish Family Services, the Hebrew Day School, the Jewish Community Center and the TOP Jewish Foundation.

"It is truly an honor for JNF to present Tess Wise with our beloved Guardian of Israel Award," said Deborah Meitin, JNF Orlando board president. "She, along with her beloved husband, Abe, have truly made a difference in the Orlando community and in Israel for their many years of involvement. Her vision to 'never forget' the tragedy of the Holocaust and her personal story has allowed our community to benefit from the establishment of the HMREC here."

The Guardian of Israel Award is a humanitarian award given in recognition of outstanding community involvement, dedication to the preservation of the environment and the protection of natural habitats.

The event will also honor Orlando Magic Chief Executive Officer Alex Martins and local philanthropists Valeria and Jim Shapiro with the prestigious Tree of Life™ Award. JNF Chief Executive Officer Russell F. Robinson will be the keynote speaker for the event.

The Orlando Tree of Life™ Award Dinner will take place on Nov. 18, at 6 p.m. at the Rosen Plaza Hotel, located at 9700 International Drive in Orlando.

Sponsorship information and tickets are available online at jnf.org/orlandotol. For more information, please contact Laura Abramson at labramson@jnf.org or 407.804.5568.

 

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