June 22 film screening to tell story of the last Holocaust survivors

Online Staff Report

The award-winning documentary Refuge: Stories of the Selfhelp Home, which tells the story of the last Holocaust survivors, will be screened at 2 p.m., Sunday, June 22, at Temple Beth-El, 1203 Comanche Drive, Rockford.

Reaching back more than 75 years, the new documentary gives a voice to the final-generation Holocaust survivors. The film explores the lives of six survivors and refugees against the context of the Nazi cataclysm and how a small group of them came together to create a community that has given shelter to more than 1,000 victims of Nazi persecution from Central Europe.

The documentary illuminates the lost world of Central European Jewry prior to World War II — middle class, educated, cultured — and the remarkable courage, resilience and character of its final generation at Selfhelp in Chicago.

The film’s director, Ethan Bensinger, will lead a discussion following the viewing.

Bensinger created the film in response to the trauma of his family’s experience of being uprooted from Germany in the years preceding the Holocaust. The film provides eyewitness testimonies and explores the strength, character, perseverance and resiliency of the last generation of victims of Nazi persecution.

Selfhelp Home residents share a history of separation from family, place and of loss, but also of rebirth in America — the same story Bensinger’s family shares. His family’s experience as refugees first in pre-state Palestine and then in the United States led Bensinger to become an immigration lawyer, and for 25 years, he has served as the managing director of the Chicago office of a global immigration law firm.

The event is sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Greater Rockford and is open free to the public. Refreshments will be served.

For more information or to RSVP, contact Goldie at the Jewish Federation at (815) 399-5497 or rockfordfederation@sbcglobal.net.

Posted June 18, 2014

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