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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.


 

January 12, 2018  RSS feed
Front Page

Text: T T T

Museum names 4 local survivors ‘humanitarians’


Holocaust Survivors Toni and John Rinde at The Florida Holocaust Museum in 2015 
Photo courtesy of The Florida Holocaust Museum Holocaust Survivors Toni and John Rinde at The Florida Holocaust Museum in 2015 Photo courtesy of The Florida Holocaust Museum Four local Holocaust survivors – John and Toni Rinde, Lisl Schick, all of Largo, and Mary Wygodski of St. Petersburg – will be recipients of the Florida Holocaust Museum’s highest honor: the To Life Loebenberg Humanitarian Award.

All four have been part of the museum since its beginnings, assisting in its creation. As representatives of the survivor community, they continue to serve the museum on its board, the advisory committee, and the History Heritage and Hope investment board, helping to ensure the museum’s long-term stability and growth.

The awards will be presented at the sold-out annual To Life gala on Saturday evening, Feb. 10.

The honorees are all prominent ambassadors for the museum, sharing their stories with student and adult groups inside the museum and throughout the state, in person, and through virtual appearances. In addition, they have encouraged their families to be involved with the museum, and many of their children and grandchildren have also begun to share their families’ stories with students and visitors, shining examples of the next generations taking up the mantle of responsibility to pass on the important lessons of the Holocaust to future generations.


Toni Rinde with the cat of her rescuers during the Holocaust in Poland 
Photo from The Florida Holocaust Museum,courtesy of Toni Rinde Toni Rinde with the cat of her rescuers during the Holocaust in Poland Photo from The Florida Holocaust Museum,courtesy of Toni Rinde “I feel the most important aspect of the Florida Holocaust Museum’s mission is education. It is vital to teach both children and adults the horrific consequences of hatred, prejudice and racism. It is also important that a Holocaust survivor tells his/her story. It is one thing to read about history in a book, but a first-hand account from somebody who has lived through this horror is much more effective. I will continue to share my story as long as I possibly can,” said Schick.


Lisl Schick and her brother, Walter Porges, in April 1939 
Photo from The Florida Holocaust Museum,courtesy of Lisl Schick Lisl Schick and her brother, Walter Porges, in April 1939 Photo from The Florida Holocaust Museum,courtesy of Lisl Schick Added fellow honoree, Toni Rinde, “The Florida Holocaust Museum is dedicated to teaching the inherent worth and dignity of life. Acceptance, tolerance, and coexistence within the global society should be the goal of every human being and within our walls we educate to remember the past in order to ensure a better future.”

In 2003, the Loebenberg Humanitarian Award was established and named for Edith (of blessed memory) and Walter Loebenberg whose dream to establish The Florida Holocaust Museum became a reality through their vision and philanthropy as well as the support and generosity of local community leaders such as this year’s honorees.

About the honorees

John and Toni Rinde were both born in Przemysl, Poland, although they did not meet each until 1957 in New York City. John came from an upper class Orthodox Jewish family. He was only 41/2 years old when the war began. In 1941 when war broke out between Russia and Germany, he and his family were herded into the Lvov ghetto. They escaped and moved to Lublin. There, he survived the war using an assumed name, masquerading as a Catholic. His family was liberated in 1945 by the Russian Army and remained in Poland for two years. He lived in France from 1946 to 1952 and emigrated to the United States in January 1952. He went on to become a physician, setting up a practice in Clearwater.


Lisl Schick speaking to students at The Florida Holocaust Museum in 2015. 
Photo courtesy of The Florida Holocaust Museum Lisl Schick speaking to students at The Florida Holocaust Museum in 2015. Photo courtesy of The Florida Holocaust Museum As a toddler, she was hidden by a Polish family from 1941 to 1945. Provided with false papers and the name Marisha, Toni was raised as a Catholic. After the war, she was reunited with her parents and attended school in the United States. A nurse, she assisted in her husband’s medical practice for many years.


Pre-war photograph of John Rinde taken between 1936-1939 
Photo from The Florida Holocaust Museum,courtesy of John Rinde Pre-war photograph of John Rinde taken between 1936-1939 Photo from The Florida Holocaust Museum,courtesy of John Rinde Lisl Schick was born in Vienna, Austria, and came from an assimilated Jewish home. She was raised with one brother. Her family was aware of anti-Semitism in Vienna and anticipated trouble after Kristallnacht. Her parents sent her with her younger brother to England on the Kindertransport in April 1939. There, she attended boarding school assisted by B’nai B’rith. Due to German shelling, they were evacuated from the east coast of England to Wales. She moved several times and arrived in the United States in December 1944 via convoy to Halifax and then a train to New York. Lisl was one of only 10 percent of Kindertransport children to be reunited with their parents.


Mary Wygodski at a displaced persons camp after she was liberated in 1945 
Photo from The Florida Holocaust Museum,courtesy of Mary Wygodski Mary Wygodski at a displaced persons camp after she was liberated in 1945 Photo from The Florida Holocaust Museum,courtesy of Mary Wygodski Mary Wygodski was born in Vilna, Poland, the eldest of three sisters and one brother raised in a traditional middle class Jewish family. After the Nazi occupation, her family was sent to the Vilna ghetto. In 1943, she was separated from her mother and two sisters at a boxcar and never saw them again. Mary was transported to the Kaiserwald Labor Camp in Riga, Latvia, and then to the Stutthof Camp in Germany. From there she was transferred to Magdeburg Labor Camp where she made artillery shells in the Polte factory. After the war, she learned that her father and brother had been executed in a concentration camp in Klooga, Estonia.

* * *

Although the museum gala is sold out, written tributes to the honorees may be purchased in advance to be shared during the program.


Mary Wygodski with Eckerd College students at The Florida Holocaust Museum in 2017 
Photo courtesy of Eckerd College Mary Wygodski with Eckerd College students at The Florida Holocaust Museum in 2017 Photo courtesy of Eckerd College Additionally the “To Life” dinner will feature a conversation with Avner Avraham, career Mossad agent and curator of the traveling exhibit, “Operation Finale: The Capture & Trial of Adolf Eichman,” which opens at the museum the same day. The exhibit includes 60 original artifacts, 70 photographic images, video interviews and the original bullet-proof glass booth where the accused Nazi war criminal sat during court proceedings in Israel.

For additional information, contact the museum at (727) 820- 0100.

The Florida Holocaust Museum is located at 55 Fifth St. S., St. Petersburg.


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