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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 © 2009-2018 The Jewish Press Group of Tampa Bay, Inc., All Rights Reserved.


 

April 21, 2017  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

Interfaith program to recall life of Raoul Wallenberg


The cover of Morris Wolff’s book. In the illustration, Wolff is hovering over photos of the Swedish diplomat credited with saving thousands of Jews in WWII but then imprisoned by the Soviets in 1945. Wolff will be guest speaker at a Tampa program commemorating Wallenberg’s life. The cover of Morris Wolff’s book. In the illustration, Wolff is hovering over photos of the Swedish diplomat credited with saving thousands of Jews in WWII but then imprisoned by the Soviets in 1945. Wolff will be guest speaker at a Tampa program commemorating Wallenberg’s life. Thirty-four years ago, Philadelphia attorney Morris Wolff found himself entwined in the mysterious disappearance of Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg, who was instrumental in saving more than 100,000 Jews from Nazioccupied Hungary.

The odyssey began when Wallenberg’s half-brother asked Wolff to sue the Soviet Union, believed responsible for kidnapping Wallenberg near the end of World War II and sending him to a Russian prison.

Wolff, now living in Florida, was an international and trial attorney and University of Pennsylvania law professor when he took on the pro bono work to rescue Wallenberg and seek $39 million in damages from the Soviet Union. The story of those efforts and the unsolved mystery of the diplomat’s disappearance are told in Wolff’s book, Whatever Happened to Raoul Wallenberg.


Raoul Wallenberg in his office in the Swedish legation. Budapest, Hungary, November 26, 1944 Raoul Wallenberg in his office in the Swedish legation. Budapest, Hungary, November 26, 1944 The author will be the featured speaker at a free community-wide, interfaith event on Wednesday, May 17, at 7 p.m. at the Bryan Glazer Family JCC, 522 N. Howard Ave., Tampa. The program also will include a commemoration honoring the work and memory of Wallenberg by area clergy including Father Len Plazewski, senior pastor of Christ the King Catholic Church in Tampa. A local gospel choir is also expected to perform.

The Tampa Ameet Chapter of the Hadassah, the Festival of Jewish Books & Conversations and Tampa JCCs and Federation are jointly sponsoring the event.

Wolff’s book tells of Wallenberg’s daring work in Hungary during World War II, through the stories told by many people he saved and those who worked alongside him, as well as his disappearance from his diplomatic post in 1945. Wallenberg was reported to have died while imprisoned by the Soviets and was formally declared dead by the Swedish Tax Agency in October 2016. Much of the mysteries surrounding Wallenberg’s imprisonment, the circumstances of his death and his possible ties to U.S. intelligence remain unsolved. Wolff details roles played by some likely and unlikely characters including Presidents Richard Nixon and Ronald Reagan, Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, Russian premiers and even Chief Justice John Roberts prior to him ascending to the court.

For his heroics, Wallenberg has been honored by Israel’s Yad Vashem as a Righteous Among the Nations and was granted honorary U.S. citizenship in 1981 by President Reagan.

In the introduction to his book, Wolff said during his long quest to obtain Wallenberg’s release, he had dreams that one day he and Wallenberg would “sit on the back of a Lincoln Continental convertible and share a ticker tape parade down 5th Avenue in New York with grateful survivors and other Americans cheering him ‘home.’”

During his lifetime, Wolff has received numerous honors for his distinguished career, including the United Nations Peace Award for Humanitarian Service and the National Council of Christians and Jews annual award – along with Rosa Parks – for his work with Attorney General Robert Kennedy in helping write the 1964 Civil Rights Act. He continues his career as a writing professor at Bethune-Cookman University in Daytona Beach.

Although the program is free, patron tickets are being sold for $100 and will include VIP reserved seating for two at the presentation, an autographed copy of Wolff’s book, a private pre-event meet-and-greet session with Wolff at 6 p.m. and recognition in the event program.

A dessert buffet for all will follow the program.

RSVPs are appreciated for the event.

For more information and patron tickets, contact Brandy Gold at the Tampa JCCs at brandy.gold@jewishtampa.com; (813) 769- 4725.


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