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Congresswoman Gets Commission Award for Cemeteries Protection Law


Commission Members pose with U.S. House of Representatives Member Grace Meng of New York (fifth from right) during the Commission's meeting in Washington, DC September 10th.  Commission Chair Lesley Weiss (light blue jacket) gave Meng the Commission's Cultural Heritage Preservation Award for being the sponsor of a new U.S. law making desecration of cemeteries a violation of religious freedom.  Federal law gives the Commission the assignment of encouraging the national governments of Central and Eastern Europe to protect cemeteries containing remains associated with the heritage of U.S. citizens.  The law sponsored by Meng gives the Commission a stronger argument for the protection of burial places in the region.


Memorial to Serock, Poland Holocaust Victims Dedicated


Commission Member Lee Seeman speaks during the dedication August 27th of a Commission memorial in Serock, Poland remembering the people of the community who were Jewish.  Most were killed during the Holocaust.  The memorial is on the site of the town's Jewish cemetery.  Nazi German forces destroyed visible evidence of the burial ground but parts of some grave stones were found in recent years.  These were incorporated into the memorial, which was primarily funded with monies raised by Seeman.  The Foundation for the Preservation of Jewish Heritage in Poland (FODZ) arranged and oversaw the building of the memorial on land donated and made accessible by PKO Bank Polski.  It also arranged the dedication ceremony, which included remarks by U.S. Ambassador to Poland Stephen Mull, Chief Rabbi of Poland Michael Schudrich, Serock Mayor Sylwester Edwin Sokolniki, Legionowo Powiat Starost Jan Grabiec, Agnieszka Zawadzka of the Mazowieckie province Voivod, Piotr Kadlcik of the Union of Jewish Communities in Poland, Justyna Borkiewicz of the PKO Bank Foundation, and Hannah Champness, the granddaughter of a Holocaust survivor from Serock who lives in the U.S. and attended the ceremony.  Champness raised funds for the memorial as a Bat Mitzvah project.  The memorial was originally suggested by then U.S. House of Representatives Member Gary Ackerman.


Commission Memorial to First Female Rabbi Dedicated



Commission Member Gary P. Zola and Chair Lesley Weiss at the Terezin Memorial in the Czech Republic in front of a plaque memorializing the first woman to become a rabbi. The Commission sponsored the plaque recalling Rabbi Regina Jonas of Germany, who was imprisoned at the Nazi's Thereisenstadt concentration camp before being sent to her death at Auschwitz.  The plaque was dedicated in a ceremony July 24th in which the women who were the first ordinees of their denominations as well as the first Orthodox woman to be ordained "Rabba" participated.  Representatives of the Terezin Memorial and the Jewish Women's Archive also spoke.  Dr. Zola initiated the plaque project.  Funding was donated by Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion.


Memorial to Jews of Bardejov, Slovakia Killed in Holocaust Dedicated


Bardejov, Slovak Republic Mayor Boris Hanuscak shakes hands with Commission Chair Lesley Weiss and Member Emil Fish at the dedication June 24th of a major memorial to the 3,262 Jews of the city and the surrounding area murdered in the Holocaust.  The three (and another dedication program participant) are standing in front of the memorial's walls naming the victims.  Fish built the memorial with the encouragement and support of the Commission through the Bardejov Jewish Preservation Committee that he founded and heads.  He is a native of the city who was imprisoned at the Nazi's Bergen-Belsen concentration camp before emigrating to the United States.



Senator Ben Cardin (D-MD) presented Chairwoman Weiss with the Jewish Heritage Celebration's Jewish Heritage Appreciation Award at the U.S. Capitol May 7th.  House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-CA), Senator Bill Nelson (D-FL), and Representative Debbie Wasserman Schultz joined Cardin in praising the Chairwoman's work.



Commission Chair Lesley Weiss (right) and Member Jules Fleischer (left) with U.S. Ambassador to Sweden Mark Brzezinski July 9th before the posthumous award of the Congressional Gold Medal to Swedish diplomat Raoul Wallenberg for saving tens of thousands of Hungarians who were Jewish during the Holocaust.

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