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

Special showing for HMREC


In honor of the 50th anniversary of the signing of the Civil Rights Act, a number of local organizations are presenting special programming on the history of desegregation in the United States. Ranging from art exhibits to documentary films to musical performances, this anniversary has given Central Florida some unique opportunities to participate in discussions about discrimination.

One of the highlights of this educational effort is a special performance of “The Best of Enemies,” a drama based on the real-life experiences of a KKK member and a grassroots civil rights activist serving together on a steering committee convened to address the integration of Durham, N.C., schools.

Performed by the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, its Oct. 26 performance is a dedicated fundraiser for the Holocaust Center thanks to Jim and Valerie Shapiro, ardent supporters of both organizations.

When they realized how closely aligned the two organizations’ programming is this season—the Shakespeare’s run of “Best of Enemies” and the Holocaust Center’s programs around the Jim Crow era and racial justice—they stepped up and suggested that one of the drama’s performances be dedicated to the Holocaust Center.

“It just made sense,” Jim Shapiro said. “It’s an opportunity for the theater to reach a new audience, and a unique fundraising opportunity for the Holocaust Center. Most of all, it’s a way for two great organizations to work together on a topic that both groups are passionate about.”  

Rita Lowndes, chair of the Shakespeare Theater Board, concurred. “We love having opportunities to partner with other organizations, and this particular play speaks to the mission of both the Shakespeare Theater and the Holocaust Center. We believe that this special event can strengthen both organizations, and ultimately it will help inspire positive changes in our community.”

The Oct. 26 performance includes a cocktail reception and opening remarks by Pamela Woodley, whose family played a key role in desegregating Orange County Public Schools. Like the struggle portrayed in the drama, Central Florida saw bitter conflicts between people anxious to support change and those who were comfortable with the status quo.

“This partnership with the Shakespeare Theater is a wonderful opportunity for us,” said the Holocaust Center’s Executive Director Pam Kancher. “ ‘The Best of Enemies’ is a perfect vehicle to talk about discrimination, and about the courageous people like the Woodley family who took risks so that their children and grandchildren would have a better life. We want our audience to be inspired by that message.”

Tickets are available online at the Shakespeare’s website or at http://www.holocaustedu.org. For more detailed information call the Holocaust Center at 407-628-0555.


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