Holocaust Remembrance Day Ceremony and Film Premiere Honor Memory of Portuguese Rescuer Aristides de Sousa Mendes; Rescued Families will Meet the Grandson of the Man Who Saved Their Lives
HUNTINGTON, N.Y., March 12, 2012 /PRNewswire/ — On Holocaust Remembrance Day (Yom Hashoah), Wednesday, April 18, 2012, there will be an unprecedented gathering of families rescued from the Holocaust by Aristides de Sousa Mendes, the “angel of Bordeaux,” during which they will have the opportunity to meet one another, learn about their shared history, and especially to meet and thank the grandson of the man who enabled them to escape the Nazis.
Aristides de Sousa Mendes was the Portuguese Consul General stationed in Bordeaux, France, during World War II. His government had issued strict orders to all its diplomats, in a document called Circular 14, to deny visas to Holocaust refugees seeking to escape Occupied Europe through Portugal. Sousa Mendes defied these orders and issued Portuguese visas to an estimated 30,000 people in May and June of 1940 in an operation described by the Holocaust scholar Yehuda Bauer as “perhaps the largest rescue action by a single individual during the Holocaust.”
The rescued families ended up in the United States, Canada, Brazil, Israel, Australia and elsewhere across the globe and began new lives, while Sousa Mendes himself was put on trial by the Portuguese government for “disobedience” and was harshly punished.
The April 18th event, open to the public, will begin at 4:00 p.m. at the Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Avenue, Huntington, NY, with the U.S. theatrical premiere of Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story, directed by Joel Santoni and starring Bernard Lecoq as Aristides de Sousa Mendes. The film will be introduced by Mr. Santoni and by Louis-Philippe Mendes, grandson of the hero. The film premiere will be followed by a buffet dinner, also at the Cinema Arts Centre. The event will continue at 7:30 p.m. at Temple Beth El, 660 Park Avenue, Huntington, NY, with a ceremony in memory of the victims and heroes of the Holocaust. The featured speaker will be Dr. Sylvain Bromberger, professor emeritus at MIT and a recipient of a life-saving visa from Aristides de Sousa Mendes.
“This year, along with remembering the six million who died, we will honor the families who survived and the heroes like Sousa Mendes who made that survival possible,” said Rabbi Jeffrey Clopper of Temple Beth El. “Among the terrible darkness of those times, there were small shimmering lights to be found, righteous individuals who demonstrated remarkable strength, courage and moral fortitude. Aristides de Sousa Mendes was one such person. He worked tirelessly to save men, women and children who faced certain death at the hands of the Nazis,” he continued.
“It’s rare when the opportunity arises to say ‘thank you’ for something as monumental as being alive,” said Dr. Olivia Mattis, co-founder of the Sousa Mendes Foundation. “Aristides de Sousa Mendes was harshly punished by his government for his action, and his family suffered terribly as a result. This event will be a unique occasion for the rescued families to learn about their own history and to thank the family that suffered so that they might live,” she added.
There will be a second screening of the film at the Cinema Arts Centre on Sunday, April 22, 2012 at 10:15 a.m., accompanied by a bagel brunch.
The Cinema Arts Centre is a cultural beacon on Long Island and a true community center. With a loyal membership of nearly 8,000 and attracting about 200,000 visitors each year, the Cinema Arts Centre has served as Long Island’s film window on the world for thirty-nine years. In addition to regular international and independent film programs, the Cinema Arts Centre produces a myriad of special programming. Since 1973, the Cinema Arts Centre has been showing films about the Holocaust, for regular patrons as well as for students in its Arts In Education Program. www.cinemaartscentre.org
Temple Beth El of Huntington is a warm, caring and vibrant reform Jewish congregation. It has served greater Huntington for more than fifty years, embracing a broad spectrum of practices and beliefs. Each year it partners with the Huntington Jewish Center and Congregation Kehillat Shalom to present an event on Holocaust Remembrance Day for the people of Long Island. Temple Beth El nurtures and engenders progressive thinking as well as traditional values to create an environment that is both comfortable and stimulating. www.tbeli.org
Founded in 2010, the Sousa Mendes Foundation is dedicated to honoring the memory of Aristides de Sousa Mendes and to educating the world about his good work. It has a two-fold mission: raising funds for the creation of a Sousa Mendes Museum and Human Rights Center in Portugal, and sponsoring US-based projects that perpetuate the legacy of Aristides de Sousa Mendes. The Foundation’s major current initiative is a Visa Recipient Database Project, for which it is seeking to identify, locate and contact families worldwide who were rescued by this hero. www.sousamendesfoundation.org
Wednesday, April 18, 2012
4:00 p.m. Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Avenue, Huntington, NY
U.S. theatrical premiere of film Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story introduced by the filmmaker Joel Santoni and Louis-Philippe Mendes, grandson of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, and in the presence of families who were rescued by Aristides de Sousa Mendes; buffet dinner to follow ($20 Cinema Arts Centre members/$25 non-members–price includes dinner).
7:30 p.m. Temple Beth El, 660 Park Avenue, Huntington, NY
Yom Hashoah Observance honoring the memory of the victims of the Holocaust and with special emphasis on the Portuguese rescuer, Aristides de Sousa Mendes, Righteous Among the Nations. Keynote address by Dr. Sylvain Bromberger, Sousa Mendes visa recipient, followed by complimentary coffee and dessert.
Sunday, April 22, 2012
10:15 a.m. Cinema Arts Centre, 423 Park Avenue, Huntington, NY. Bagel brunch followed by a second screening of Disobedience: The Sousa Mendes Story ($9 Cinema Arts Centre members/$13 non-members).
For ticket information please contact the Cinema Arts Centre box office at (631) 423-7611.
SOURCE Cinema Arts Centre