Catholic students learn about Holocaust at Face to Face program

About 90 eighth-graders from three Catholic elementary schools: All Saints of St. John Vianney, in Wickliffe and St. Adalbert and St. Aloysius, both in Cleveland, spent the morning of Feb. 26 learning about the Holocaust.

The three-hour Face to Face Holocaust Education Program, part of Kol Israel’s Holocaust education program, was presented at Congregation Shaarey Tikvah in Beachwood.

Kol Israel Foundation Announces Election of New Officers and Board Members

BEACHWOOD, Ohio, June 22, 2017 – Kol Israel Foundation is pleased to announce the
election of the following new officers and board members effective July 1, 2017:

  • Leo Silberman, Chairperson of the Board - Leo is a Holocaust Survivor from Poland. He settled in Cleveland after the war with his wife Paula, also a Survivor. Leo has been actively involved with Kol Israel for over twenty-five years. He is frequently a guest speaker at Face to Face, the Maltz Museum, and other venues throughout Northeast Ohio and Pennsylvania.
  • Muriel Weber, President - The daughter of Holocaust survivors, Muriel is the past president of Oheb Zedek-Cedar Sinai Synagogue and now serves as its Treasurer. She has co-chaired the Cleveland community Yom Hashoah commemoration. She has served on the Kol Israel board for the past several years and most recently as Vice President led its strategic planning initiative.
  • Mark S. Frank, First Vice President - Son of Holocaust survivors, Mark is an attorney who has been practicing in Cleveland since 1981. He is a Life Member of Kol Israel and served as Treasurer from 2010 to 2014; Secretary from 2015- 2017; Zion Memorial Co-Chairman and Yom HaShoah Co- Chair.
  • Louise Gips, Vice President - Louise (nee Greenwald), a Holocaust Survivor, was born in Bobov, Poland and settled in Cleveland with her late husband Harry in 1949. She has been involved with Kol Israel since its inception and served as the President of the Kol Israel Sisterhood until its absorption into Kol Israel Foundation. She has been a Vice President since 2012.
  • Avi Goldman, Vice President - Born in a German DP camp to Polish Holocaust survivors, Avi has been involved with Holocaust Survivors in Cleveland since 1980 and served as President of Second Generation Kol Israel, Vice President of Kol Israel Foundation. He has been actively involved in the Yom HaShoah Commemoration and Memorial Service at Zion Memorial Park for many years.
  • Ellen Nebel Jacob, Vice President - Ellen, daughter of Holocaust Survivors,. is a writer, marketing and communications professional. She is serving her 2nd term as VP and chairs Kol Israel Foundation’s mobile Holocaust Education program. She was recognized as the 2015 Kol Israel Volunteer of the Year and with the 2016 Kol Israel Leadership Award.
  • Deborah Hurwitz, Vice President - Deborah is the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. She visited concentration camps in Germany, Prague and Poland as a young adult. She currently serves as President of the Orange Schools Foundation. She will be co-chairing the 3G (third generation) membership initiative.
  • Jeremy Joseph, Vice President - Jeremy, grandson of Holocaust Survivors, is a Lead Consultant at Paragon Consulting and has been responsible for upgrading and maintaining Kol Israel’s website.
  • Robert Zelwin, Vice President - Son of Holocaust Survivors and Bielski Partisans, Bob has been very involved within the Cleveland Jewish Community serving on a number of boards; Jewish Community Center, Jewish Federation of Cleveland, B’nai Jeshurun Congregation and Solon Benevolent Fund. He is the Proprietor of Adjer Industries and B&G Industries.
  • Courtney Mendelsohn, Secretary - Courtney is the granddaughter of Holocaust Survivors. An attorney, Courtney represents corporate clients in commercial litigation matters.
  • Jeffrey J. Beder, Treasurer - A partner with the accounting firm of PolkBeder LLC, Jeffrey is the son of Holocaust survivors. Jeff has been involved with Kol Israel for many years. This is his second term as Treasurer.
  • Anne Lukas, Past President - Daughter of Holocaust survivors, Anne has served Kol Israel for over thirty years as President, board member, vice president, and interim chairperson of the board. She has taught courses on the Holocaust at Notre Dame College and Ursuline, where she is an Associate Professor Emerita. A few years ago, she developed a travel program on Jewish-Christian relations for Ursuline and the community, which she led to Europe several times.

The following members of the General Board were also announced:
Hank Bitterman, Rina Frankel, Dr. Michael Frankel, Jerry Gips, Alan Gottlieb, Linda Gruenspan,
Nate Jones, Vladimir Konstantinovsky, Joshua Kramer, Dr. Sylvia M. Kramer, Henny Lukas
Fierman, Hedy Milgrom, Allison Newman, Helene Pincus, Loree Potash, Lee Rosenberg, Ellie
Shoag, and Jordan Smith.

Incoming President, Muriel Weber, said of her election, “I consider it a privilege to be President
of Kol Israel Foundation. I look forward to working with the officers and our board. It is exciting
to see members' interest in our programs which have developed over the past several years
under Anne Lukas’ outstanding leadership. They have included our new interactive website
(, historic recognition for our Holocaust Memorial located in Bedford Heights, the
growth of our mobile Holocaust education outreach program and third generation activities.”  

Slate of Officers and Board Members for 2017 Annual Meeting

The Leadership and Nominating Committee recommends the following:


Chairperson of the Board                           Leo Silberman

President                                                     Muriel Weber

Vice President                                            Louise Gips

First Vice President                                   Mark Frank

Vice President                                            Ellen Jacob

Vice President                                            Deborah Hurwitz

Vice President                                            Robert Zelwin

Vice President                                            Avi Goldman

Vice President                                            Jeremy Joseph

Secretary                                                    Courtney Mendelsohn

Treasurer                                                    Jeffrey Beder

Past President                                            Anne Lukas             




Henry Bitterman                                          Josh Kramer

Henny Lukas Fierman                                  Dr. Sylvia Malcmacher Kramer

Rina Frankel                                                 Hedy Milgrom

Dr. Michael Frankel                                      Allison Newman                              

Jerry Gips                                                    Helene Pincus

Alan Gottlieb                                               Loree Potash

Linda Gruenspan                                         Lee Rosenberg

Nate Jones                                                  Ellie Shoag

Vladimir Konstantinovsky                           Jordan Smith 

CJN- Kol Israel educator retells father’s story

MANSFIELD – Ben Nebel couldn’t speak about the horrors he was a part of during the Holocaust. Now, his daughter, Ellen Jacob, wants to make sure that his heroic story is heard.

Jacob, vice president of Kol Israel Foundation and chairperson of Holocaust education outreach programming for the Beachwood-based organization, was the guest speaker April 23 at the Yom Hashoah commemoration at Emanuel Jacob Congregation in Mansfield.

“Because I’m the daughter and granddaughter of Holocaust survivors, I’m not only a witness, I’m a very lucky witness,” she said.

About 9 million Jews lived in Europe at the time and 6 million were killed in the Holocaust.

“Statistically, by those numbers, I can be counted on as a miracle. I’m a miracle,” said Jacob, a Bainbridge Township resident. “Each of the 3 million survivors has a story to be told.”

This was Nebel’s story.

As she told the story of her father, who died in 1998, she asked the guests to put themselves in his shoes. She wanted them to imagine the horrors the Nazis afflicted upon the Jews, just because of their religion. Instead of using her father’s name during her talk, she substituted the word “you.”

Read the full article from the Cleveland Jewish News.

Kol Israel Foundation is a proud Community Partner of the 2017 Cleveland International Film Festival

Press Release

For Immediate Release: March 20,2017
Contact: Hallie Duchon, Executive Director, Kol Israel Foundation
Facebook: www.facebook/kolisraelfoundation

Kol Israel Foundation is a proud Community Partner of the 2017 Cleveland International Film Festival.   

BEACHWOOD, OH, March 20, 2017-  Six million Jews perished during the Holocaust, leaving a mere three million Survivors, each with a unique story to tell.  Kol Israel Foundation invites the community to view SHALOM ITALIA, the compelling documentary about three Jewish- Italian brothers, Holocaust Survivors, and their attempt to find the landmark cave in the Tuscan Countryside where they hid from the Nazis 70 years ago.

Screenings of SHALOM ITALIA

Tower City Cinemas

  • Wednesday April 5, 2017               6:40 pm
  • Thursday April 6, 2017                    11:35 am
  • Sunday April 9, 2017                        9:30 am

To receive a $2 discount on each ticket………

  • Online: Use the code KOL when purchasing tickets at
  • Phone: Use the code KOL when calling the Film Festival Box Office at 877.304.FILM (3456)
  • In-person: Use the code KOL at the Film Festival Box Office in the Tower City Cinemas lobby.


Since 1957, Kol Israel Foundation honors the lives of Holocaust Survivors and engages their descendants, families and supporters to preserve the legacies of the Survivors and convey lessons learned to future generations. Visit us at

Kol Israel Foundation Announces Opportunity for Holocaust 2nd Generation to “Tell Your Story”

BEACHWOOD, OH, January 2, 2017. Kol Israel Foundation is constantly exploring the significance of the Holocaust. A top priority of the organization is to recognize the importance of Survivors’ memories, and preserving and sharing them through Holocaust educational outreach. Kol Israel believes that first-person accounts provide a powerful impact that helps community members put a face on history and make meaning out of statistics.

“Many of Cleveland’s courageous Holocaust Survivors have been telling their stories for decades and will continue to do so for as long as they can. Sadly, there will come a time when there will be no eyewitnesses left to teach our children what happened in the Holocaust, making it all the more imperative to develop and put into place a way to continue to tell the stories,” said VP and Holocaust Education Outreach Chairperson Ellen Jacob, whose parents were both Holocaust Survivors. "It's important to have these stories told and I think it's much more authentic, much more moving and impactful for the Survivors to be telling the story themselves."

Over the course of the last two years, Kol Israel’s Holocaust education outreach program has been able to share Survivor testimonials, presented by their children and/or grandchildren, throughout the community. We have found that what makes these video presentation compelling is the ancillary dialog that only Survivor’s family members can provide.

Some of the questions recently asked during the ten presentations to more than 250 eighth-graders in the Brunswick schools, included:

  • “What effect does the Holocaust have on your family today?”
  • “Was it different growing up with your family being Holocaust Survivors? If so, how?”
  • “What is the worst story that your Survivor parent told you?”
  • “How did the Holocaust change your parent(s) mentally, emotionally and physically, and how did that affect your childhood?”
  • “How does it feel to know that your parent was at a concentration camp during the Holocaust?”
  • “Do you believe that Hitler was a good man or a bad man?”
  • “Why was Hitler chosen to become dictator of Germany?”
  • “How were you affected by the Holocaust?”
  • “Do you think you would have survived the Holocaust?”
  • “Why and how do you think your parent(s) survived the Holocaust?”
  • “Do you think your parent(s), if they could have, would have converted to another religion to
  • escape torture?”
  • “Is it hard for you to deal with the fact that you would not be alive it your ancestors weren’t as brave, strong, hopeful and lucky as they were?”
  • “Do you think something like the Holocaust could happen again in our lifetime?”
  • “Do you think your parent ever wished that he/she wasn’t Jewish?”
  • “Does/did your parent(s) despise Germany? Do you?”
  • “Did your parent(s) tell you about his/her experience during the Holocaust?”
  • “How did the Holocaust affect your parent(s)’ life/lives? How is their experience affect yours?”
  • “Did you know all about what your parent(s) went through during the Holocaust? If yes, when?”
  • “How or why do you think your parent(s) survived?”

These students’ questions were thought-provoking and insightful, and most could only be answered by members of the Survivors’ families. This has inspired Kol Israel to provide video-testimonials of 2nd generation Holocaust Survivors.

As part of our ongoing education programs, Kol Israel Foundation is pleased to announce an exciting new program for 2nd generation Holocaust Survivors, Your Story Simply Told. This program is provided courtesy of Natalie Bauman, founder and CEO of The Digital Mosaic, LLC. It enables 2nd generation video interviews through an easy-to-use app in the comfort of one’s own home and scheduling.

On Thursday, Jan 12, 2017 at 6:00 PM at At Mark Frank's office: 4469 Renaissance Parkway, Warrensville Heights 44128, Ms. Bauman will demonstrate the proprietary program, how the app works, and talk about the process, options, and ease of use. There is no charge for these services due to the generosity of Ms. Bauman.

If you are a second-generation Holocaust Survivor, you won’t want to miss this extraordinary opportunity to find out how to tell YOUR story. RSVP to or call the Kol Israel Foundation office at 216.831.3754.


Kol Israel Foundation, Inc. is an organization of Jewish Holocaust Survivors, their families and supporters. Since 1959, the organization seeks to fulfill its mission of remembrance, advocacy, and education throughout Greater Cleveland.

CJN- Federation's Yom Hashoah V’Hagvurah Contest opens

Middle and high school students are invited to enter the 2017 Yom Hashoah V’Hagvurah Contest commemorating Holocaust and heroism. Essays and works of art should portray this year’s theme, “Stand Up, Speak Out: Stopping Persecution Then and Now.”

“This is a wonderful opportunity for students to consider the lessons of the Holocaust from a unique perspective and to creatively interpret that point of view through writing and art,” said Richard Rakos, creative arts committee co-chair.

Entries will be judged on interpretation of the theme, originality and technique. Cash prizes totaling $2,500 will be awarded. Winners and their schools will be recognized at the Yom Hashoah Commemoration on April 23 at Anshe Chesed Fairmount Temple in Beachwood. Deadline for entries is February 14.

The Yom Hashoah Creative Arts Contest and the annual Yom Hashoah event are sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and Kol Israel Foundation.

For more information and entry forms, visit or contact Debbie Klein at or 216-593-2834.

Read the full article Cleveland Jewish News.

CJN- Holocaust survivor’s story to be told Dec. 11

During the Holocaust, Sam and Ida Zelwin belonged to the Bielski Partisans, a group led by Jewish Polish brothers who saved and recruited Jews in Belarus. After the war ended, the Zelwins settled in Cleveland.

The 2008 film, “Defiance,” which chronicles the story of the Bielski Partisans, will be shown at 4:30 p.m. on Dec. 11 at the Mandel Jewish Community Center’s Stonehill Auditorium, 26001 S. Woodland Road in Beachwood. The movie night will include special guests Harry, Robert and Ileen Zelwin, who will discuss their parents’ experiences and answer questions.

The event is free and open to the community.

RSVP required by Dec. 8 to

Read the brief from the Cleveland Jewish News.

Movie Night, featuring Defiance

Press Release

For Immediate Release: November 21, 2016
Contact:  Ellen Jacob, V.P., Kol Israel Foundation
Web site:
Facebook:  www.facebook/kolisraelfoundation

Kol Israel Foundation and Mandel JCC are pleased to invite the community to Movie Night, featuring DEFIANCE, a Holocaust story of Survivors who fought as Partisans with the Bielski Brothers

BEACHWOOD, OH, November 21, 2016 – There were six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust, leaving a mere three million Survivors, each with a unique story to tell.  One such story is the movie DEFIANCE -- an amazing, true story about human courage, perseverance, and strength during the most horrific of times.  

The 2008 film, directed by Edward Zwick, is set during the occupation of Belarus by Nazi Germany. It is an account of the Bielski Partisans, a group led by Polish Jewish brothers who saved and recruited Jews in Belarus during WWII.  What makes this showing of the movie Defiance all the more compelling is that two of the Bielski Partisans, Sam and Ida Zelwin, settled in Cleveland, OH after the War.

Sam and Ida Zelwin escaped from the Novogrodek, Poland ghetto at the latter part of 1941 after 5000 of their fellow Jews were taken into the forest and killed. The Zelwins fled into the Belarus forests where they joined up with the Bielski brothers when the group numbered two dozen people. They spent three and a half years resisting the Nazis with the Bielski Partisans until they were liberated in 1945, when the group numbered 1200. Today there are more than 20,000 descendants of the group. Sam and Ida had a son, Harry, who was born in a Displaced Persons Camp in Foehrenwald, Germany in November, 1947. After emigrating to the U.S., Robert was born in Cleveland, OH in April, 1950, and Ileen was born in February, 1952. Sam and Ida Zelwin died in January, 2005 and March, 2006, respectively.  

Harry, Robert, and Ileen will be attending to further discuss their parents’ experience and answer questions

Special thanks to Robert Zelwin, Board Member of Kol Israel Foundation, and his family, second- (and –third) generation Survivors, for graciously making this movie event possible.


Sunday December 11, 2016 at 4:30 PM
Mandel JCC  -  Stonehill Auditorium
26001 S. Woodland Rd., Beachwood
Open to the community by reservation only.
Admission is Free. Space is limited, so please RSVP by 12.8.16 to:

CJN- Kol Israel monument awaits historic designation

CJN Photo / Amanda Koehn

CJN Photo / Amanda Koehn

The following is an excerpt from the Cleveland Jewish News. Click here to read the full article.

by Amanda Koehn

Holocaust survivors and their families gathered at Zion Memorial Park in Bedford Heights Oct. 9 for the 55th ceremony to remember the 6 million Jews killed in the Holocaust and survivors who died after the Holocaust.

The annual Fall Memorial for victims of the Holocaust was sponsored by the Kol Israel Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. About 300 people attended the program, including 40 who identified themselves as Holocaust survivors and gathered for a photo following the program.

Read the full article Cleveland Jewish News.

CJN- Surviving the Holocaust, sharing the stories

AP / Alik Keplicz

AP / Alik Keplicz

The following in an excerpt from the Cleveland Jewish News. Click here to read the full article.

by Ellen Nebel Jacob

What would your life story have been?  

Could you have survived?

As someone who has heard and documented a multitude of eyewitness survivor testimonies, I often wonder how anyone could have survived the systematic dehumanizing tactics, the terrorism and the heinous murders perpetrated by the Nazis and their supporters. What kept these Jews alive? Hope? Strength? Courage? Compassion? Resilience? Religion? Perhaps, all of the above.

Imagine living in eastern Europe in the late 1930s.

Read the full article from the Cleveland Jewish News.

Learn about Malice, Murder, and Manipulation in Lithuania at Jewish Genealogy Society

Have you ever heard the term heritage citizenship? Grant Arthur Gochin, author of Malice, Murder, and Manipulation: One Man’s Search for Truth, is the featured speaker at the Wednesday, November 2nd meeting of the Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland. He will share his struggle to restore his family’s rights to citizenship in Lithuania. His appearance is co-sponsored by the Kol Israel Foundation.

Grant Gochin has litigated against the Lithuanian government many times over returning citizenship to those of Jewish ancestry and to force their hand in ceasing to honor Holocaust Perpetrators.

Citizenship and legal status affected every aspect of life in the “old country.” Mr. Gochin will relate a 100 year story of how the Lithuanian government abused national laws causing multiple Jewish deaths in 1922 and how that government continued that behavior four generations later. He will document one Jewish family’s deportations, deaths, abductions and movements.

Grant Gochin is a Litvak who has been researching his family history for the past 30 years. He is an activist for historical truth telling and accountability in Lithuania, and widely published on the subject. He is extensively philanthropically and politically engaged in Lithuania on Jewish issues. Grant serves as the Honorary Consul for the Republic of Togo in California. Originally from South Africa, he presently resides in California, where he works as a Certified Financial Planner and Wealth Advisor. He is married with one son. Grant's blog on his engagements in Lithuania is at

The Jewish Genealogy Society of Cleveland meets on the first Wednesday evening of the month starting at 7:30 PM in the Miller Board Room at Menorah Park, 27100 Cedar Road, Beachwood. Board members are available from 7:00 PM to assist with individual research questions. Guests are welcome. RSVP to


Photo attached

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