By Max Miller
On October 15, five juniors from ICJA, Tova Kahan, Joey Greenberg, Liat Mott, Yakira Robinson and Max Miller, participated in the United States Holocaust Museum’s Risa K. Lambert Chicago annual fundraising luncheon downtown.
The luncheon, which was primarily focused on raising funds for the Museum and celebrating its 25th anniversary, highlighted the achievements of the museum in the past quarter century: combating Holocaust denial and antisemitism, remembering those who perished, and confronting and stopping genocide. The keynote speaker was Ben Ferencz, who at currently 99 years old, is the last surviving prosecutor from the Einsatzgruppen Trials. The trials, held in Nuremberg, Germany, accused 22 former members of SS mobile death squads of crimes against humanity, war crimes, and being members of a criminal organization. The Einsatzgruppen trials were his first ever court case and all 22 accused SS members were convicted: Impressive for a new lawyer who was not yet even 30 years of age at the time. Later, he helped establish the International Criminal Court, the court that presides over crimes against humanity, and ironically has recently received criticism from the pro-Israel community, claiming its prosecutions of Israel are anti-Semitic. Unfortunately, Mr. Ferencz was unable to speak live at the luncheon due to medical issues, but a video of a previous speech he had given was displayed.
The main point of the event was to honor Professor Peter Hayes and Father John Pawlikowski, whose contributions to Holocaust studies and refutation of Holocaust denial have proven groundbreaking.
Although Mr. Ferencz is almost 100 years old, his vivaciousness and gregarious character make him a remarkable speaker. His humor and stage presence give the crowd a look into the mind of a man who brings justice to the world. His motto, “Laws, not War” truly sums up his character: just, logical, and kind.
Junior Tova Kahan remarked that “Even though Mr. Ferencz couldn’t make it, the video of the speech they showed of him was really amazing.”
The group also met Skokie Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL, 9th District), who serves as the representative for the majority ICJA students. Additional notable attendees included exiting Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel and the Holocaust survivors who participated in last year’s Yad Vashem Generation to Generation Internship, Eva Ozarowski and Vera Burstyn. Most of the students who participated in the internship last year were asked to attend the event by Ms. Sennett, head of the history department.
“I’m so happy that I was chosen to be a part of this program [and last year’s internship],” said junior Liat Mott. “It was really awe-inspiring to even have been in the same room as these amazing people.”
This article originally appeared in The Crown Prints student newspaper and was posted here with permission.