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

Holocaust Center to honor Arkins


The Holocaust Center has chosen local activists, Susan and Gordon Arkin, as honorees at this year's Dinner of Tribute. For decades, the couple has identified needs and inspired change throughout the community.

"Susan and Gordon have done so much to better the lives of all who call Central Florida home. They are wonderful ambassadors of the Holocaust Center and our mission to create an inclusive, caring community where everyone feels welcome and valued, and that is why we're honoring them," said Pam Kancher, executive director of the Holocaust Center.

Susan has championed public school education from the classroom to the boardroom-serving as a volunteer mentor/tutor to being chairwoman of the Orange County Public School Board. She served on the Holocaust Center board of directors for 22 years and is presently an emeritus board member. Susan is also a member of the Valencia College Peace and Justice Initiative's Advisory Council, an emeritus board member at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater and is actively involved with the 100 Women Strong Giving Circle and the Evans Community School. Since proceeds from this event will benefit educational programs for bullying prevention, Susan had this to say of the Holocaust Center's program: "We are very impressed with and supportive of the Holocaust Center's Upstander Program, which is designed for middle school students. It focuses on neither the bully nor the bullied, but on their peers. It helps them understand the impact of abusive words and actions, develop empathy for others, and claim their power as 'upstanders,' not bystanders. These visceral first steps are followed by the lessons of the Holocaust, to provide a context that helps teach the ultimate ramifications of standing silent. The Upstander program makes the lessons of history resonate with the current experiences of these young students."

Gordon began his volunteer career as the founding chairman of the Orlando chapter of the National Conference for Christians and Jews (NCCJ). As his commitment to the community grew, so did his involvement in a variety of organizations. He currently serves as the board chairman of Seniors First, Inc .; he is chairing the New Hope for Kids capital campaign; he established the Business Lawyers' Pro Bono Project at the Rollins College Philanthropy and Nonprofit Leadership Center; and he is active in a number of other vital community projects.

"There is no quick or easy way to create a caring community, free from racism, bigotry and anti-Semitism, but we must try," Gordon said of the Holocaust Center's efforts to challenge hatred and bigotry in all its forms. "Giving young students an authentic window into what it is like to walk in someone else's shoes is a start. Schools are microcosms of society, so creating cultures of respect and acceptance among middle school students is a good way to start changing the world for the better."

The Dinner will be held Tuesday, April 28, at the Rosen Plaza Hotel (9700 International Drive) in Orlando. A cocktail hour will begin at 5:30 p.m. and the evening will feature live performances and a silent auction in addition to the dinner.

Information about reservations, sponsorships and program advertisement opportunities can be found on the Holocaust Center's website (www.holocaustedu.org) or by calling the Center at 407-628-0555.


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