Jewish heritage program on tap at German institute

Rita Goldhor, Leo Mark Horovitz and Ralph Samuel all have extraordinary tales about how they escaped the Holocaust in 1939 via the Kindertransport.

But after they made it to England and eventually to the United States and the Bay Area, each struggled to varying degrees in their adult years with coming to grips with their heritage and their native language.

Did they want to have any connection to Germany? How did they deal with being labeled as German? Did they feel uncomfortable about speaking their first language?

The trio will be talking about those struggles and others in a roundtable discussion titled “Holocaust Survivors Reclaim Their Mother Tongue and Cultural Heritage.”

Ralph Samuel photo/courtesy of gerlind institute

Open to the public, the talk is being organized by the Oakland-based Gerlind Institute for Cultural Studies, which teaches and promotes German cultural studies throughout the Bay Area. One of the co-sponsors is the Middle East Peace Committee at Kehilla Community Synagogue in Piedmont.

The event is slated for 2 to 4 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 13 at the Altenheim, a recently renovated 114-year-old retirement estate in Oakland. The stately six-acre facility, which was opened in 1896 by German immigrants, held a grand reopening in December, and now hosts German classes, films, lectures and concerts in addition to housing low-income seniors of different nationalities.

The program will be moderated by Marion Gerlind, the non-Jewish director of the Gerlind Institute, and Judy Eisenberg, an American Jew who lived in Germany for two years. The program, which will be in English, was a featured session at the last national German Studies Association Conference, which was held  in Oakland in October 2010.

Goldhor, from Vienna, now lives in San Leandro; Horovitz, from Frankfurt, lives in El Sobrante; and Samuel, from Dresden, lives in Oakland.

The program will be held in Prior Hall at the Altenheim, 1699 Excelsior Ave., Oakland. Admission is $15 general, $10 for seniors, students and children. The talk will be followed by a reception with, as the flier states, “kaffee und kuchen” (coffee and cake).

For more information, call (510) 430-2673, send an e-mail to [email protected] or visit