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The Jewish Press of Tampa and the Jewish Press of Pinellas County are Independently- owned biweekly Jewish community newspapers published in cooperation with and supported by the Tampa JCC & Federation and the Jewish Federation of Pinellas & Pasco Counties, respectively. Copyright © 2009-2019 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


January 31, 2014  RSS feed
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Museum’s annual gala to celebrate 75 years since Kindertransport

The Florida Holocaust Museum’s annual “To Life” gala at the Mahaffey Theater in St. Petersburg on Thursday, Feb. 27, will honor Kindertransport survivors with a program, “To Life: To Children.”

The event celebrates the 75th anniversary of the Kindertransport (Children’s Transport) – an effort that saved the lives of about 10,000 children on the eve of World War II. Following the violent pogrom staged by Nazi authorities against German Jews in November 1938, known as Kristallnacht, the British government allowed for the temporary admission of unaccompanied minors from Germany and German-annexed territories, to England. It was assumed that children would return to their parents when the “crisis” was over, yet most would never see their parents again.

Local residents Marietta Drucker and Lisl Schick are serving as honorary co-chairs for the event. Both were Kindertransport children from Vienna.

Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor will receive the Loebenberg Humanitarian Award. Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor will receive the Loebenberg Humanitarian Award. The program features Grammy nominated American concert pianist Mona Golabek performing excerpts from her award-winning stage show based on the book The Children of Willesden Lane, written by Golabek and Lee Cohen.

Chosen among the top 10 shows for 2013 by the San Francisco Chronicle and the Chicago Sun Times, Golabek tells her mother’s true story and plays some of the most beloved piano music.

Golabek’s mother, Lisa Jura, who at age 14 was studying for a concert debut at the storied Musikverein concert hall in Vienna, Austria, when her parents put her on the Kindertransport to protect her from the Nazi regime.

Golabek’s maternal grandmother, Malka Jura, was the first concert pianist in the family.

“My grandmother said (to my mother), ‘You must make me a promise: That you will never stop playing, that you will hold on to your music, that it will be your best friend. It’s going to give you the strength. I love you, never forget that’,” says Golabek in a Chicago Tribune interview.

Lisa Jura spent the years during World War II with other transported Jewish children in a hostel on a street called Willesden Lane. Despite the hardships, she continued to pursue her piano studies, practicing in the basement of the hostel even as the Blitzkreig gripped London.

Shortly after the war, Jura made her debut in London’s Wigmore Hall As part of her performance, Golabeck will play a piece that her mother, who died in 1997, played at that London debut.

Jura had a long career as an accomplished pianist, passing along her mother’s advice to her own two daughters, Mona and Renee, who both became concert pianists. Later, when Renee died of cancer, Mona passed on the advice to Renee’s children, three of whom are pianists and one a violinist.

So despite the Nazi’s aim to rid the world of Jews, four generations of musicians have flourished, all because a mother’s decision to send her child away on the Kindertransport.

Golabek hopes the story of The Children of Willesden Lane will inspire young people to follow their dreams. The message, she says, is that even in the darkest times, with perseverance, faith and hope, it is possible to succeed.

In addition to Golabek’s performance, Tampa Police Chief Jane Castor will be presented with the prestigious Loebenberg Humanitarian Award. A 29-year veteran of the Tampa Police Department, Castor is partnering with the Florida Holocaust Museum to provide her force with a program similar to the “Law Enforcement and Society: Lessons of the Holocaust” training available at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial. Museum (USHMM) in Washington, D.C. The program examines the history of the Holocaust and its implications for law enforcement today.

Following discussions with USHMM and the Anti-Defamation League, it was decided that the Florida Holocaust Museum would be the first museum outside of Washington to offer the program to local law enforcement agencies. Under Castor’s direction, the entire Tampa Police Department, from command to new recruits, will take part in the program.

“We are proud to be able to offer this new initiative to the community and are grateful for Chief Castor’s vision in understanding of the importance of this training in modern society,” said Elizabeth Gelman, the museum’s executive director. “This program directly resonates with our core purpose of using the lessons of the past to create a better future for all.”

Individual tickets for the To Life benefit are $200 and sponsorships are available. For more information, call (727) 820-0100, ext. 251 or email

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