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2017-04-21 digital edition

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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

Int’l Remembrance event discontinued

By BOB FRYER Jewish Press

Vincent Genovese, organizer of the International Holocaust Remembrance Day events held at the Italian Club in Tampa for the past five years, announced that the event, an essay contest about the Holocaust and a scholarship program for essay contest winners have been canceled for the future.

Members of the local Jewish community reacted to the announcement with sadness.

Drawing hundreds of people representing many countries and heritages, it was synched with the United Nation’s remembrance day designation, which marks the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp on Jan. 27, 1945. Yom HaShoah is a separate Holocaust commemoration established by the state of Israel and coincides with the Warsaw Ghetto Uprising, which occurred from April 19 - May 16, 1943.

From the first International Holocaust Remembrance Day event organized in 2013 through the most recent one held on Jan. 24 this year, Genovese has identified the Tampa Bay Consular Corps (TBCC) as host of the Remembrance Day commemorations. The TBCC organization also was associated with the essay contest and scholarship program.

Genovese, who organized the events while serving as consular correspondent for Italy, says the cancellations are due to a directive to him from Arthur Savage, honorary consul for Denmark and Norway and dean of the TBCC.

In a letter to Genovese, Savage wrote that it is “TBCC’s policy not to endorse any particular cause or event.”

Savage told the Jewish Press, “We never organized or sponsored the event, though we have encouraged people, including our members, if they wanted, to attend. But as an entity, we do not organize or sponsor any event. We never have.”

Savage said he and the countries he represents support Holocaust survivors and victims and praised the work Genovese has done to organize the Remembrance Day events, the essay contest and the scholarship program. He said Genovese is free to continue those programs, just not under the auspices of the TBCC.

Genovese said he is hopeful that the programs can be held again one day, but said it is key that an international organization do it, and he hopes the TBCC changes its policy.

No TBCC funds were ever spent on the Holocaust commemorations, Genovese said, as he was able to get use of the Italian Club facilities in Tampa to serve as venue for the ceremonies. The Remembrance Day events drew hundreds, including the Israeli Consul General from Miami and other consul generals from outside the Tampa Bay area, as well as a number of TBCC members. The commander of MacDill Air Force Base attended at least two of the events and other MacDill representatives were at others. Holocaust survivors, as well as a soldier who helped liberate a concentration camp and a Jewish-American soldier prisoner of war at a Nazi labor camp, spoke at past events. The Bay Area Cantorial Association performed at the events and representatives from a variety of faith organizations attended.

One of the sponsors of the Remembrance Day events was the Florida Holocaust Museum in St. Petersburg. The museum’s executive director, Elizabeth Gelman, said she was sad to read Genovese’s announcement about cancelling future events and programs.

Many programs remembering the Holocaust are put on by the Jewish community and attended primarily by Jews, she said, but the ceremonies Genovese organized drew largely non-Jewish attendees and participants. “For me the real value is that non- Jewish representatives, some from countries involved in World War II and some not, were at an event to recognize the horrors of the Holocaust and a way to memorialize it. It resonated by educating the people attending.”

She said when an elderly man told of his experiences as an American soldier liberating a death camp, younger military members there were learning in a direct way from someone who was there.

Gelman said the museum was proud to be a co-sponsor of the events Genovese put on and hopes some way is found to continue the Remembrance Day ceremonies.

Others in the local Jewish community, including Tampa JCCs & Federation CEO Gary Gould, Cantor Beth Schlossberg of Congregation Kol Ami and Cantorial soloist Joy Katzen-Guthrie of Congregation Beth Am, wrote to Genovese expressing disappointment in the cancellation announcement.


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