City Tech Marks Kristallnacht, End of WWII Anniversaries
New York City College of Technology marked the 72nd anniversary of Kristallnacht and the 65th anniversary of the end of World War II recently with Ann Kirschner, Ph.D., author of “Sala’s Gift: My Mother’s Holocaust Story,” and the presentation of humanitarian awards to Nobel Prize winner Günter Blobel, M.D., Ph.D., and Interfaith Committee of Remembrance founder and chairman Jerry Jacobs. The event took place in the college’s Atrium Amphitheater in Downtown Brooklyn.
Gary V. Ellis, M.D., co-founder and executive director of Brooklyn-based Inner Force Student Leadership Institute, introduced Dr. Kirschner. Joel Levy, director of development at the Vera Institute for Justice and former New York regional director at the Anti-Defamation League, presented the JFSA Distinguished Humanitarian Award to Dr. Blobel and Mr. Jacobs. Borough President Marty Markowitz gave greetings and presented proclamations.
Other dignitaries attending the event, which is sponsored by City Tech’s Jewish Faculty & Staff Association, included Ewa Junczyk-Ziomecka, New York Consul General of Poland, and Dr. Horst Freitag, New York Consul General of Germany.
Günter Blobel, M.D., Ph.D., is the John D. Rockefeller, Jr. Professor and an investigator at the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (Laboratory of Cell Biology) at Rockefeller University. Dr. Blobel was the 1999 recipient of the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for his discovery that proteins have intrinsic signals that govern their transport and localization in the cell. He also received the King Faisal International Prize in 1996, the Albert Lasker Award for Basic Medical Research in 1993, the Louisa Gross Horwitz Prize in 1989 and the Gairdner Foundation International Award in 1982.
Dr. Blobel is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the American Philosophical Society, the Pontifical Academy of Sciences and the German Order of Merit.
Born in a small Silesian village in what was then the eastern part of Germany, Dr. Blobel founded (in 1994) Friends of Dresden, Inc., a charitable organization with the goal of raising funds to support the reconstruction of that German city decimated during World War II. He donated the entire sum of his Nobel Prize to support the rebuilding of Dresden, including the Frauenkirche (Church of Our Lady), built in the 18th century, and the building of a new synagogue in the city. The synagogue was destroyed on Kristallnacht in 1938.
Dr. Kirschner, City University of New York dean of Macaulay Honors College, says in her book, “For nearly fifty years, my mother kept a secret. After surviving five years of Nazi slave labor camps, Sala Garncarz Kirschner came to America as a war bride and raised our family without ever speaking of her wartime experiences. I grew up in a happy and safe home, and became a scholar, writer, and a mother myself, but always wondered about the black hole in my mother’s past.”
Among the topics Dr. Kirschner covered is the role of public education and what it has meant to her family. “New York City schools not only educated me, but my mother, too,” she explained. “And my family has a close CUNY connection.”
Dr. Kirschner began her career as a lecturer in Victorian literature at Princeton University, where she earned a Ph.D. in English. Her subsequent career as an entrepreneur in media and technology included the creation of Internet businesses for the National Football League and Columbia University. She is a frequent contributor to conferences and publications on higher education and interactive media.
Jerry Jacobs is founder and chairman of the Interfaith Committee of Remembrance and executive producer of the annual Interfaith Holocaust Remembrance Concerts at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine. The son of a violist and assistant conductor of the pre-war Lodz Symphony who died in the Holocaust, Jacobs was a child survivor of Auschwitz and Buchenwald. #