BHEC’s L’Chaim to honor area Holocaust survivors

The Birmingham Holocaust Education Center will honor Alabama Holocaust survivors and their families at the annual L’Chaim event on Aug. 18.

“Holocaust Survivors from Generation to Generation” will be at the Jemison Concert Hall at the Alys Stephens Center at 2:30 p.m.

The program, a combination of entertainment, education and recognition, will feature The Magic Shtetl Klezmer Band under the direction of Alan Goldspiel and special entertainment arranged by Keith Cromwell of Red Mountain Theatre Company, including vocalists Cantor Jessica Roskin, Caleb Clark, Tracy Winborn, and student performers from RMTC’s Conservatory.

According to Deborah Layman, producer of L’Chaim, the personal stories of these survivors are the very reason for the BHEC’s existence and the core of the organization’s work statewide. The BHEC uses these stories to teach new generations about the consequences of hate and indifference.

At one time, the center knew of 120 Holocaust survivors in Alabama, with 74 of them in the Birmingham area. Today, survivors with whom the BHEC is acquainted or involved number only 13 in Birmingham, two in Huntsville and one in Northport.

Layman said the survivors “grew up in Jewish households in Germany, Central and Eastern Europe, and Russia, in large cities, small cities, towns or shtetls with Jewish customs, Jewish food, Jewish liturgy, music, and humor. In honor of our survivors and the lives they enjoyed before the horrors of the Holocaust, L’Chaim 2019 will celebrate the rich Jewish culture.”

There will also be an emphasis on bearing witness. “As the number of living survivors dwindles, it becomes vitally important that we bear witness on their behalf to keep their stories — and the lessons to be learned from the Holocaust — alive for new generations,” Layman said. At the event, “we will also witness the stories of minorities who are surviving hatred in our community today.”

Honorary co-chairs for the event are Karen Allen, Neal Berte and David Silverstein.

Tickets are $50 for adults, $25 for students, and are available here. A dessert reception will follow. The event is the culmination of the center’s annual fundraising campaign, and proceeds will benefit BHEC programs, which keep the history and lessons of the Holocaust alive so that new generations will apply these lessons to their own lives and make a difference in the world for the benefit of all humanity.