Fiorello's Sister: Gemma La Guardia Gluck's Story - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Fiorello's Sister: Gemma La Guardia Gluck's Story

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Monday, December 3, 2007

HUC-JIR Museum
One West 4th Street
New York, New York

  • On View: September 4, 2007 - January 27, 2008
  • Reception: Wednesday, December 12, 2007, 5:30-7:30 PM 

Organized in conjunction with the 125th anniversary of the birth of New York City Mayor Fiorello La Guardia, this exhibition describes the life's journey of his beloved sister, Gemma, who was incarcerated as a political hostage in the Mauthausen and Ravensbrück concentration camps during the Holocaust. 

Born in 1881 in New York City, Gemma La Guardia Gluck was the daughter of Italian immigrants - a mother of prestigious Italian Jewish lineage and a father who became a U.S. Army bandleader. Gemma and her Hungarian Jewish husband were living in Budapest in 1944 when Nazi troops stormed the city. Eichmann and Himmler ordered her arrest as a political hostage because she was La Guardia's sister. 

This exhibition follows the trajectory of Gemma's memoir, from her girlhood years spent in the Old West to the years of jeopardy amidst Budapest's Jews, deportation to Mauthausen with her husband, imprisonment at the notorious Ravensbrück women's concentration camp, and difficulties as a displaced person in postwar Berlin. 

"Gemma's story is of a wise and strong woman who remained optimistic and resourceful, even when life was much less than fair," says Rochelle G. Saidel, guest curator and the author of Fiorello's Sister: Gemma La Guardia Gluck's Story, incorporating Gemma La Guardia Gluck's My Story. Saidel is also the author ofThe Jewish Women of Ravensbrück and other Holocaust related books, and the founder and director of Remember the Women Institute, a nonprofit corporation dedicated to research in women's history. 

"Gemma La Guardia's story casts new light on the Holocaust and is a source of inspiration to all those who seek to understand the human capacity to overcome tragedy and affirm life," notes Jean Bloch Rosensaft, museum director.

  • Museum Hours:
    - Monday-Thursday, 9 PM - 5 PM; Friday, 9 AM - 3 PM
    - Selected Sundays, 10 PM - 2 PM on September 30; October 14, 28; November 11; December 2, 16; January 13, 27
  • Admission: Free. Photo ID Required.
  • Tours/Information: Contact Elizabeth Mueller at (212) 824-2205 or

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.