Houston and Austin Holocaust Commemorations Planned

HOUSTON, TX (May 5, 2005) -- Yom HaShoah, the international day of Holocaust remembrance, will be observed in ceremonies in Austin on Monday, followed by a commemoration of the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II in Houston on Tuesday, organizers have announced.

Yom HaShoah, which originally began in Israel in 1951, is now observed throughout the world. Services provide a time for Holocaust survivors, their families, their friends and entire communities to remember the victims of Nazi hatred. Holocaust Remembrance Day is reserved for prayer, study and reflection and does not seek to answer the question of why, but simply asks that the community remember those who perished in the Holocaust.

The Austin ceremonies will begin at 10:00 a.m. Monday, May 9, with the presentation on the floor of the Texas House of Representatives of a resolution commemorating the Holocaust.

A ceremony will follow on the south steps of the State Capitol at noon, presentation of a resolution on the Senate floor at 1:30 p.m. and a private reception with key legislators at 2 p.m.

Keynoting the ceremony will be Dallas resident Rudy Baum, a Jewish refugee who left Germany in 1936 for the United States but who registered for the draft in 1941 and was inducted in the U.S. Army six months before the assault on Pearl Harbor. Baum was sent to England in May 1944 and participated in the liberation of Paris and in the Battle of the Bulge. He also was present for the liberation of Buchenwald on April 11, 1945.

Other speakers on the Capitol steps will be Dana Kursh, vice consul general of the State of Israel from Houston; state Sens. Florence Shapiro (R-Plano), Rodney Ellis (D-Houston), and Kel Seliger (R-Amarillo); and state Reps. Joe Nixon (R-Houston) and Scott Hochberg (D-Houston).

The House and Senate resolutions note that this year's observance commemorates the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II. Nixon, Hochberg and Reps. Joe Straus (R-San Antonio) and Elliott Naishtat (D-Austin) are sponsors of the House version, and Senate sponsors include Shapiro, Ellis and Seliger.

Holocaust Museum Houston also will sponsor a local commemoration of Victory in Europe Day (V-E Day) in conjunction with the Russian and Israeli consulates at 10 a.m. on Tuesday, May 10, at the museum, 5401 Caroline St., Houston, Texas.

Holocaust survivors Leon Cooper and Ben Waserman will speak in the Houston ceremony, as will Kursh and the Hon. Nikolay Platoshkin, deputy consul general of the Russian Federation in Houston.

A release of live butterflies will highlight the Houston event. The butterfly release has been adopted as a ceremonial reminder of the death of 1.5 million children during the Holocaust. That tragedy is memorialized in the book "I Never Saw Another Butterfly," a compilation of poetry and prose written by children in a concentration camp in Terezin, Czechoslovakia.

The Austin ceremonies are sponsored by the Texas Coalition for Holocaust Education. The coalition is comprised of the Dallas Holocaust Museum, the El Paso Holocaust Museum and Study Center, the Holocaust Memorial of San Antonio, Holocaust Museum Houston, Jewish Federation of Fort Worth and Tarrant County, North Texas/Oklahoma Region of the Anti-Defamation League and the Southwest Region of the Anti-Defamation League.

The Austin events are being coordinated by Lea Weems, president of the Houston Council of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and a member of the Board of Directors of Holocaust Museum Houston.

Holocaust Museum Houston will provide free transportation from Houston to the Austin ceremony, subject to availability and advance reservation. Buses will depart at 7 a.m. Monday, May 9, from the Jewish Community Center, 5601 S. Braeswood Blvd. To RSVP or to register for transportation, call 713-942-8000, ext. 104 by 5 p.m. Friday, May 6.

Holocaust Museum Houston promotes awareness and educates the public of the dangers of prejudice, hatred and violence against the backdrop of the Holocaust by fostering remembrance, understanding and education.

Holocaust Museum Houston is free and open to the public and is located in Houston's Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004. For more information on the Austin or Houston events or on Holocaust Museum Houston, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.

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