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

'Irene Sendler: Rescuing the rescuer' to be shared at Kristallnacht Commemoration


October 12, 2018

Irene Sendler today.

The Holocaust Center will share the story of Irena Sendler at the annual Kristallnacht commemoration, Nov. 4. Sendler's story will be told by actor and playwright Libby Skala, whose one-woman show had a successful run at the London Fringe Festival. Skala will bring to dramatic life the true story of Sendler, a Polish Catholic social worker who defied Nazi rule to organize an underground network that successfully rescued 2,500 Jewish children from certain death in the Warsaw ghetto during WWII.

For decades, her heroism remained hidden behind the iron curtain, until one day in 1999, when three Protestant high school students from rural Kansas stumbled upon a brief mention of her in an old magazine clipping. Eager to know more, the determined young Kansans researched, wrote and performed a play portraying her work for National History Day. Their award-winning project brings Irena Sendler to international attention. It propels them across the ocean to her doorstep where they find a transformative friendship with the sparkling nonagenarian who teaches them first-hand how a single individual "answering the need of her heart" can change the course of the world.

Why Remember Kristallnacht?

A young Irene Sendler.

Each year the Holocaust Center sponsors a community program in remembrance of Kristallnacht, also known as the November Pogrom, a series of attacks against Jews in Germany and Austria. On Nov. 9 and 10, 1938, thousands of Jewish homes, shops, schools, and synagogues were ransacked and destroyed, leaving the streets covered in pieces of smashed windows-the origin of the name Kristallnacht means "Night of Broken Glass."

That terrifying night marks the beginning of Hitler's 'Final Solution." It was the moment that should have erased any doubt about Hitler's intentions. Jewish lives were in jeopardy, and clearly there would be further tragedy. Yet, the world stood by in silence.

The Kristallnacht commemoration will take place on Nov. 4, at 2 p.m. in the Harriett and Hy Lake Auditorium at The Roth Family JCC in Maitland.


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