Cincinnati honors the heroes of Hana's Suitcase - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Cincinnati honors the heroes of Hana's Suitcase

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Monday, February 2, 2004

Living heroes come to Cincinnati February 3-10, 2004 to engage in the first week long lesson of its kind in the United States. The heroes of the award-winning book Hana's Suitcase: Fumiko Ishioka, the Director of the Tokyo Holocaust Education Center and George Brady, a Czech Holocaust survivor, now of Toronto Canada will bring important lessons of tolerance and hope to the tri-state according to Mapping Our Tears architect, Dr. Racelle Weiman, the Director of the Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education (CHHE) of Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion.

Much more than a book tour, Hana Brady and the Children Week provides an ambitious 16 program series for community leaders, teachers, children, parents and librarians. This intelligent non-fiction work of literature has received many awards including the 2003 Children's Book of the Year and the 2003 Golden Oak Award for Adult Literacy.

This fine example of the true meaning of a 'global village,' and tribute to multiculturalism will kick-off on 2/5 at the Cincinnati Public Library, followed by 15 public appearances, community discussions, educators' workshops held in greater Cincinnati Public and private schools, Hebrew Union College, local synagogues, and culminate in a 2/8 book signing and program at the Rookwood Pavilion Joseph-Beth Bookstore. These events are made possible through a grant from Fisher Foundation, (Fisher Family of Amberly).

On Tuesday 2/3 at 7:30pm: CET-Television PBS will air the USA Premiere screening of CBC half-hour documentary on the story behind the book. The simple fact is that one story of compassion, one small book, can inspire and transform families and communities to reach out to one another, with love and hope, and is understood in every language, in every culture.

The week of programming is the brainchild of the Director of CHHE, Dr. Racelle Weiman. After requests from numerous teachers seeking quality Holocaust literature for young people, Weiman sought an answer and was led to the book. Weiman ordered 1,000 books from Whitman Press of Chicago- all sold within two months.

During the summer of 2003, Weiman was at a conference in Toronto and met the Brady family. "The Brady family is remarkable. George, with the number on his arm still vivid, was full of smiles. He spoke with such love and respect towards Fumiko. He proudly showed the mail, artwork and poetry from children across the world. He then shared his original photo albums and pieces of his family's history. This rediscovery of a family is the most exquisite sign of caring and compassion possible. I knew it was a story I needed to share with educators in Cincinnati," said Weiman.

See the attached listing of events and contact the Center at (513) 221-1875 extension 355 or by email at

Hana's Suitcase is a true story that ties together children across the world. In a country where the history of the Holocaust is not taught to children, Fumiko Ishioka, a dedicated teacher, created the Tokyo Holocaust Education Center in Japan. She received artifacts from the Museum at the Auschwitz Concentration Camp in Poland including a battered brown suitcase bearing the words "Hana Brady, born May 16, 1931, 'Waisenkind' (Orphan)." The Japanese children who gathered around this captivating object asked Fumiko, "Who is Hana Brady?" Realizing that Hana's story was infinitely more important than the artifact, Fumiko began her quest to uncover the short life of Hana Brady, one young Jewish girl caught in the Holocaust. Fumiko was determined to fulfill her promise to her young students in Japan to find Hana's story. The book showcases the extraordinary detective work and travels, which led Fumiko to Canada and to Hana's older brother, George Brady.

Cincinnati's first exposure to Hana's Suitcase came when CHHE partnered with the Wiesenthal Center's Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles for a videoconference with the heroes, who came to California for the book launch. The videoconference in November 2003 brought more than two hundred 7th graders from six public and private schools throughout Cincinnati, in connection with the students and heroes in LA. The success of the event inspired the Center to seek local funding to bring the heroes of the book to Cincinnati. This February, their dream will be realized. Cincinnati is only the forth city in the USA to hold such events. With sixteen sites in 5 days, the Cincinnati project is by far the most extensive program yet.

Hana's Suitcase is a tribute to excellence in journalism. Karen Levine, a Canadian journalist, came across a news story about a Japanese teacher who had come to Canada to find the last pieces of a mystery about a young Holocaust victim. Levine, a Peabody Award recipient, first created a radio documentary, which led to Hana's Suitcase, her first book. A ballad with music was composed in Canada. Negotiations for a full-length feature film and more book contracts are currently under discussion. The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education is producing a Companion Guide for Home and School to accompany the book.

Hana's Suitcase is available at The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education and at Joseph-Beth Bookstores. The prize-winning radio documentary audio CD, the Canadian National Institute for the Blind Book-On-Tape, and multiple other related resources are also available at the Center. The heroes of Hana's Suitcase will be available at limited times for interviews. Please contact the Center for requests.

The Center for Holocaust and Humanity Education is an educational and community resource center located on the Cincinnati campus of Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion. It offers workshops, professional training seminars, graduate courses, and development of original curriculum. Teaching Holocaust Studies from academic and theological perspectives, the Center promotes tolerance and social justice in a broad range of civic and cultural concerns.

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.