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Gaynor Performs At Tribute Dinner

On Nov. 19, the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County held its Annual Tribute dinner at the Old Westbury Hebrew Congregation. More than 400 people were in attendance from all parts of Long Island along with many local politicians from the North and South shore. Grammy award winning artist Gloria Gaynor, known for her famous song “I Will Survive,” was a special guest.

 

 The co-chairs for the evening Samantha and Keith Gutstein and Robyn and Jordan Linn were honoring John Cooper and Jack Foley for their deep commitment to the holocaust museum and educator Lori Gately. They also featured guest speaker Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger, a German physician, whose father was a highly decorated Nazi officer. Wollschlaeger converted to Judaism, emigrated to Israel and served in the Israel Defense Forces and is now a family practitioner in

Florida. As an author and lecturer he has spoken all over the world about his life’s journey and the lessons of the Holocaust.

 

Jennifer Carpenter Low, director of development for the HMTC, said, “This is our signature annual event and during this event we talk about the importance of the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center in teaching the history of the holocaust and its lessons to contemporary day issues of prejudice, bigotry and discrimination.”

 

Chairman of the museum Steven Markowitz was pleased with the turnout at the event. “Every year we have an annual dinner to honor people who have done great service to the center. We are so thrilled with the support we have been shown by the community that understands the importance of the work we do in trying to tell the story of what happened in the holocaust and why it is so important today and the lessons that people should learn.”

 

The Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center, founded more than 20 years ago by elected officials, clergy, Holocaust survivors and volunteers is the preeminent Holocaust resource on Long Island. The center conducts classes with local school to educate against bullying. Their reach is also world wide.  

 

Markowitz explained, “We do video  conferencing all over the country and all over the world and we will have a survivor describe his or her experience during the holocaust and it gives an opportunity for kids who never would have had a chance to hear direct testimony with someone who went through this and the impact is just overwhelming.”

 

One of the Holocaust survivors and frequent speaker at the museum is the delightful and upbeat Annie Bleiberg who is 93 years young and was a slave at Auschwitz and considers herself a very lucky person. Her story of survival is chronicled in a new book coming out December by Gloria Gaynor, We Will Survive. She had the honor of introducing Gaynor at the event and brought the house down with her hilarious introduction. She had just returned from meeting

Gaynor backstage and proudly showed off her autographed copy of Gaynor’s new book. 

 

“I considered it such an honor when I was asked to introduce Gloria. She is such a lovely and wonderful person.” 

 

 Standing next to her was Dr. Bernd Wollschlaeger, who shared why he converted to Judaism. 

 

“For a long time I questioned my father’s background trying to find answers that were not provided to me. I endeavored into my own journey to find out why Germans would kill Jews. No one would explain that to me. I was 14 years old and it was triggered by the events in 1972 during the Munich Olympics when the Israel athletes were murdered.” 

 

Wollschlaeger shared his views on why the Holocaust Museum is important. “Holocaust museums are not only historic places where we talk about the past and preserve the memories of the past but they remind us what hatred can do to us as people, it is corrosive, it is acid on the soul. If we are not reminded and learn from the dynamics of hate, learning how hate evolves we never will learn to prevent it from happening again. The Holocaust was just one horrific example of what hate can do.”

 

The evening was filled with inspiring speeches from all of the honorees and guests were treated to an amazing cocktail hour with beautiful and varied food stations followed by a sit down dinner and ending with lavish desserts, some too pretty to eat. 

 

Bleiberg introduced Gloria Gaynor to the audience; Gaynor thanked her with a smile and said, “Annie is amazing in so many ways. She is one of those people I get to meet every once in a while but she stands at the top of the list of all the wonderful survivors I met throughout my career. Every now and then you meet someone who is going through what seems to be insurmountable odds yet they determine that they will make it through because for them neither defeat nor surrender is an option.” 

 

In a profound speech before she sang her famous song, Gaynor discussed meeting Bleiberg for the first time at the museum. “It was not until I met Annie and heard her story up close and personal that I began to really understand the atrocities that were perpetrated….. In l978 when I recorded ‘I Will Survive’ many people took that song as that mantra I will survive but what they were really saying was that I am going to thrive. If you don’t care about other people you can’t expect them to care about you…Evil does not just devour its enemies it destroys its allies as well.”

 

She discussed apartheid, the ethnic cleansing in Bosnia and how it went on far too long, but the people who survived did not do so without the help and care of others.

 

“Promote being tolerant and be vocal about your adversity to intolerance and hatred. We need to recognize that any of these things can happen any time any where to anyone so we need to be aware and be vocal against hatred. All of us are vulnerable if we do nothing, none of us will survive.”


News

Local residents were out in full force at Thursday night’s zoning board meeting at Glen Cove City Hall in opposition of a new 7-11 convenience store that is set to be built at the corner of 4th Street and Cedar Swamp Road. According to Stuart Grossman, chairman of the Zoning Board, the meeting was officially supposed to be focused on sign variances for the new store, but residents wanted to make sure their voices were heard.

New York State Assemblyman and Frost Pond Road resident Michael Montesano said that he hopes the board will deny the application for the new 7-11 because of the traffic impact and light pollution the new store will create.

If you missed the 6th annual champagne party at Coe Hall in Planting Fields, put it on your calendar for next year, because this is the party of the summer. A total of 175 guests attended, many in costume, a new addition to the popular event. The always ebullient Henry Joyce, executive director of Planting Fields Foundation, greeted his guests with his date, Daphne, a 3-month-old long-haired Dachshund, who is a companion for his Great Dane, Lucy.

“This is a splendid event to celebrate Coe Hall and Planting Fields; everything looks so wonderful in the summer,” said Joyce. “The gardens are glorious and we have a new exhibition to celebrate and it’s just so lovely to be out here in these gardens.”


Sports

The Long Island Council on Alcoholism and Drug Dependence (LICADD) is holding its 34th Annual R. Brinkley Smithers Golf Invitational, a charity tournament, on Monday, Sept. 22, at The Creek and Piping Rock Clubs in Locust Valley.

This year, LICADD will have Kristin Thorne, Emmy Award Winning WABC-TV news reporter and personality joining them as Emcee and Auctioneer. The live auction boasts playing opportunities at some of the country’s top golf courses, along with dozens of silent auction and raffle prizes to please the most discriminating of tastes.

All athletes interested in putting their bodies to the ultimate test can hop on over to Theodore Roosevelt Memorial Park in Oyster Bay, which will once again be the site of Long Island’s premiere multisport event – the 27th annual Runner’s Edge - Town of Oyster Bay Triathlon on Saturday, Aug. 23, and the Runner’s Edge – Town of Oyster Bay Junior Triathlon for youngsters ages 8-13 on Sunday, Aug. 24. 

 

The Saturday main event is a “sprint” triathlon, which consists of a half-mile swim in Oyster Bay harbor, a one loop 15 kilometer bike ride over hill and dale through beautiful Oyster Bay, Oyster Bay Cove and Laurel Hollow, and a 5 kilometer run through Mill Neck and Brookville, “up” to Planting Fields Arboretum and “down”to the finish at back at  Roosevelt  Park.


Calendar

Zumba-Thon Fundraiser

Wednesday, Aug. 27

Live Music

Wednesday, Aug. 27

School Supply Program

Saturday, Aug. 30



Columns

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