After the Last Survivor: Yiddishkayt Initiative Holocaust Programs

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After the Last Survivor: Yiddishkayt Initiative Holocaust Programs and the Czestochowa Legacy – Discussion with Avi Hoffman & Lea Wolinetz

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Czestochowa, Poland is considered one of the most important European centers of Jewish faith and culture in the long history of the Jewish people. From the early 19th century, Jews played an important role in the development of industry and commerce in Czestochowa, and a number of Jewish social, educational and charitable institutions were established. Lea Sigiel-Wolinetz is the Executive Director of the World Society of Czestochowa Jews and their Descendants. Over the years, Lea has been asked, repeatedly, why she has given so much of herself to the city of Czestochowa, Poland. Her mother Pola Horowicz Sigel left Czestochowa so many years ago, with such terrible memories, but there were good memories, as well, and stories that had to be told about Jewish life in the city that was the home to . Her task is to recount the stories of her forefathers, as a bequest, for the sake of Jewish children and grandchildren. As the world loses more Holocaust survivors, it becomes the next generation’s mission to pass this legacy on and to celebrate the rich and deep history of the Jewish people.

Avi Hoffman is the CEO and founder of the Yiddishkayt Initiative and actor specializing in Jewish culture and Yiddish theater. His long-running “Too Jewish” trilogy has been seen by millions on PBS and in venues around the world. He has produced and presented shows throughout North America, Europe and Israel. International Festivals include Romania, Poland, New York, Toronto, Montreal, Tel-Aviv and other European cities and countries. His connections in the theater, entertainment and film communities are extensive. He has received a Congressional Award and was named a “Sage” by The New York Times. Both he and his mother were recently inducted into the Bronx Hall of Fame.

Lea Wolinetz was born to Holocaust Survivors from Poland. She started her professional career as a Public School teacher and administrator in the New York City Public School system. Coming from her education background, she’d go on to help create Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation. To honor the millions of children lost during World War 2, in 1994 she created The Golden Bridge of Friendship. The non-profit was designed to match orphans from Eastern Europe with adoptive parents. The model she developed is now used across the globe. Mrs. Wolinetz has served as Coordinator for the Jews of Czestochowa Exhibit and Outreach Manager for the Polin Museum in Warsaw. She currently acts as the Executive Director of the Worldwide Czestochowa Jews and their Descendants, and the Secretary of Czenstochowa Relief Society.

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