The FHM’s Most Successful Fundraising Event To Date
February 16, 2023 [St. Petersburg, FL] — The Florida Holocaust Museum (The FHM) held its annual benefit gala at The Vinoy® Renaissance St. Petersburg Resort & Golf Club. To Life: Reflections of Courage took place on February 4th launching their yearlong recognition of the 80th anniversary of the rescue of 7200 Jewish men, women, and children by the Danish people.
This milestone was marked by sharing the Museum’s vital work and it’s future plans for combating antisemitism. The FHM’s success will prove helpful as it meets the current and future challenges of the rise in antisemitism, changing technology, and the aging and loss of Holocaust survivors. Reaching both existing and new supporters, “To Life” attracted more than 600 attendees and raised more than $900,000, making this year’s event the Museum’s highest-grossing benefit to date.
The FHM’s Legacy Award was presented to Steve and Irene Weiss. Steve, the son of a Holocaust liberator, and Irene, the daughter of Holocaust survivors, are longtime supporters and Life Members of The Florida Holocaust Museum. Through their leadership, the Museum’s Anne Frank Humanitarian Award (AFHA) program was founded in 2001, and since then, more than 1,700 high school juniors have been recognized as exemplary humanitarians. Moreover, Irene served as the program’s first chair. She has also served as Chair of the Museum’s Board of Directors and is an active member of the Board’s Advisory Committee. In 2021, Irene and Steve Weiss made a major gift to the Museum to fully fund its conversion from traditional electricity to solar energy. Last year, they spearheaded the effort to acquire an authentic fishing boat that was used during the 1943 rescue of Danish Jews have helped underwrite the expenses of its transatlantic voyage to Florida. Irene and Steve have made a commitment to see the project to fruition with the eventual addition of the boat to the Museum’s permanent exhibition. The FHM’s Legacy Award is given each year to honor a person whose commitment to sharing the story of a Holocaust survivor empowers future generations to use the lessons of the past to create a better future.
The FHM presented The People of Denmark with the Loebenberg Humanitarian Award which was accepted by Ambassador Stig Piras, Deputy Chief of Mission. Ambassador Piras has an extensive career in both the Foreign Service and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Denmark. In 2003, the Loebenberg Humanitarian Award was established and named for Edie* and Walter* Loebenberg, whose dream to establish The FHM became a reality through their vision and philanthropy, as well as the support and generosity of community leaders. The Award recognizes individuals/groups who have made outstanding contributions to further the Museum’s mission to recognize the inherent worth and dignity of human life to prevent future genocides.
The FHM introduced its new President and CEO, Carl Goodman, who will be transitioning into the role next month. Goodman will be exiting the Museum of the Moving Image — the New York cultural institution where he’s spent 34 years, most recently as Executive Director.
The FHM shifted into a presentation on the rise of antisemitism and how education is the primary tool to combat the spread of misinformation. By working together, and striving to further its educational reach, The FHM works tirelessly to educate thousands of students across the state and beyond. While The FHM celebrates its success they are mindful of the challenges ahead. The Museum is ready to meet the challenges of the continuing rise of antisemitism and Holocaust denial, and distortion by preserving the memories of beloved survivors through its educational resources, large collections of artifacts, and innovative uses of technology.
The program ended with the story of Thor, the Danish rescue boat acquired by The FHM. The 34-foot,10-ton wooden vessel was purchased from a boat broker who obtained it from the family of the fisherman who used it to smuggle Jews out of Denmark. The boat symbolizes an opposing view of the boxcar, already on display at the museum. “It shows there are two sides, two choices,” said Weiss, former chair of the St. Petersburg museum. “One is a vehicle to kill people. The other is a vehicle to save people.”
“All of us at The Florida Holocaust Museum are incredibly grateful for the outpouring of support we received for this year’s To Life event and our community’s ongoing support of our Mission. Now more than ever, it is up to all of us to remember the survivors and victims of the Holocaust and to ensure that its lessons are taught to inspire generations of upstanders,” Erin Blankenship, Interim Executive Director, The Florida Holocaust Museum.
Looking forward, The FHM will remain vigilant in its mission and teach members of all races and cultures the inherent worth and dignity of human life in order to prevent future genocides. Funds raised from To Life will go to support this work.
The FHM is thankful for this year’s To Life: Reflections of Courage Committeechaired by Margot Benstock and Jennifer Garbowicz.
The FHM is grateful for its sponsors, their continued commitment and support made this event happen.
Visionary SponsorsSandy Mermelstein & Kent BontlyThe Sembler & Kamins FamiliesChampion SponsorsRothman Family FoundationRachael & Don WorthingtonHumanitarian SponsorsSelime & Bert BoksenCorcoran PartnersDuke EnergyAmy & Bruce Epstein/Sandy & Jay EpsteinDr. Judy Genshaft & Steve GreenbaumMeg & Gary MoskovitzRaymond JamesThe Raymund Family FoundationResidences at 400 CentralThe Schick, William Greenberg &Madow FamiliesSilverman FamilySlide InsuranceStephanie & Bernardo SteinIrene & Steve Weiss
For a complete list of supporters click here.
|The Florida Holocaust Museum55 Fifth Street SouthSt. Petersburg, FL 33701Phone: (727) 820-0100www.TheFHM.org|
|About The Florida Holocaust MuseumOne of the largest Holocaust Museums in the country, and one of three nationally accredited Holocaust museums, The Florida Holocaust Museum honors the memory of millions of men, women, and children who suffered or died in the Holocaust. The FHM is dedicated to teaching members of all races and cultures the inherent worth and dignity of human life in order to prevent future genocides. For additional information, please visit www.TheFHM.orgPhotos:|