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The programs featured Deborah Benami-Ram, daughter of Holocaust rescue activist Yitshaq Ben-Ami, who is a member of the Wyman Institute's "They Spoke Out" network of children and grandchildren of rescue activists. She spoke on November 7 to about one hundred students at the Brauser Maimonides School in Fort Lauderdale. The next day, she addressed two hundred students at the Donna Klein Jewish Academy, in Boca Raton.
At both schools, the students responded with interest and enthusiasm, and lively discussions followed Ms. Benami-Rahm's lecture.
The programs were organized in conjunction with the sixty-seventh anniversary of the Kristallnacht pogrom, which devasted the Jews of Germany in 1938 and set the stage for the Holocaust.
Yitshaq Ben-Ami was part of a small group of Zionist activists from Palestine who smuggled boatloads of Jewish refugees from Europe to the Holy Land in the late 1930s. In order to do so, they repeatedly bribed Nazi officials and risked arrest or worse. In addition, they were acting in defiance of the British ruling authorities in Palestine, who had restricted Jewish immigration to that country in response to Arab violence.
Later, Ben-Ami came to New York City, where he was one of the leaders of the Bergson Group and played key roles in its campaigns for U.S. rescue action and the establishment of a Jewish State.
Part of Ms. Benami-Rahm's presentation included the screening of a rare video clip of the march by four hundred rabbis to the White House just before Yom Kippur in 1943. The Bergson Group organized the march to press the Roosevelt administration to rescue refugees.
Ms. Benami-Rahm's talks in Fort Lauderdale and Boca Raton were the kick-off to a new Wyman Institute education campaign. The Institute will bring the children and grandchildren of Holocaust rescue activists to schools around the country to introduce students to the unknown heroes who tried to save Jews from Hitler in the 1930s and 1940s.