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From left, Ben, Adam, and Daniel Danzger of Tenafly wrote and directed a documentary about a couple who survived the Holocaust.

Sir Nicholas Winton’s story might never have been told if his wife had not discovered a suitcase full of documents and transport plans in the attic of their home.

Fifty years earlier, her husband had organized the rescue of 669 mostly Jewish children from German-occupied Czechoslovakia on the eve of World War II. But he did not mention these events to anyone – including his wife – for more than half a century.

On November 6, the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades in Tenafly will present a film about Winton, dubbed “Britain’s Schindler” by the British media, as part of its annual commemoration of Kristallnacht, the Night of Broken Glass, when Nazis destroyed thousands of Jewish homes, shops, and synagogues throughout Germany and Austria. This year marks the 75th anniversary of the violence in which 91 Jews were killed, 30,000 Jewish men taken away, and Hitler’s Final Solution began.

The film about Winton, titled “Nicky’s Family” and narrated by the rescued children and Sir Winton, has garnered more than 30 awards, including 14 audience awards from U.S. film festivals. It was released by Menemsha Films in 2011 and features a full cast and crew, as well as cameo appearances by the then-102-year-old Winton, members of “Nicky’s family,” and the Dalai Lama.

“It’s a compelling and poignant story about a virtually unknown hero,” said Rochelle Lazarus, the JCC’s public relations and communications director. “Not only did Winton mount the actual rescue operation, but he also found homes for the children and arranged for their safe passage to Britain.”

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The film, which features reenactments of the rescue operation, is one segment of a broader commemoration to be held next Wednesday evening in the JCC’s Eric Brown Theater. Lazarus said the program, sponsored by the Richard H. Holzer Memorial Foundation and presented by the Martin Perlman & Jo-Ann Hassan Holocaust Education Institute, reflects an intergenerational theme and will include intergenerational participation.

“Prior to the film about Sir Winton, we will showcase a short documentary titled ‘Generations of the Shoah: The Regina and Abraham Tauber Story,’ written and directed by local teenage Tenafly brothers Ben, Adam and Daniel Danzger as their way of passing the torch so stories such as those in Nicky’s family will never be forgotten,” Lazarus said, adding that the brothers, students at Tenafly High school, conceived of the idea for a documentary after hearing a Yom
HaShoah sermon by their rabbi, David-Seth Kirshner of Temple Emanu-El in Closter. They raised more than $7,000 toward the project and plan to complete a suite of at least four such videos.

After the screening of “Nicky’s Family,” guest speaker Eva Holzer of Demarest will recount her experiences as a child during the Holocaust and as a member of a kindertransport similar to those Winton organized as part of his rescue mission. Holzer, born in Slovakia (then known as Czechoslovakia), escaped with her three sisters in June 1939 and made it to England, where she lived in a group home before continuing on to Ecuador and reuniting with her family.

A fourth segment – actually the evening’s opener – will be a performance of “Drops of Love” by the award-winning Young People’s Chorus @ Thurnauer, an affiliate of the Young People’s Chorus of New York City. “Drops of Love” was written in honor of Sir Nicholas Winton and is featured in the film. The choristers, ranging in age from 10 to 17, are part of the Young People’s Chorus @ Thurnauer’s Concert Choir.

“Eva Holzer is a beloved friend to the Thurnauer School of Music. Our chorus will be performing in her honor as well as all of the other survivors of the kindertransport,” said Dorothy Kaplan Roffman, the Thurnauer school’s director.

“With this program, the JCC hopes to communicate an important message about the sacred quality of life and how fragile it is,” Lazarus added. “We hope to ensure that these stories are not lost to time.”

Information
What: Kristallnacht commemoration, featuring films “Generations of the Holocaust” and “Nicky’s Family,” speaker Eva Holzer, and music by Young People’s Chorus @ Thurnauer

When: November 6 at 7:30 p.m.

Where: The Eric Brown Theater at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, 411 East Clinton Avenue in Tenafly

How much: $10 for JCC members, $12 general admission

Sponsored by: The Richard H. Holzer Memorial Foundation