At 94, Sonia Warshawski is one of the last remaining Holocaust survivors in Kansas City and one of the few who speaks publicly about her wartime experience. Concentration camps, watching her mother disappear into a gas chamber and being shot through the chest on Liberation Day hasn’t stopped “Big Sonia” from spreading valuable life lessons to high schoolers and prisoners alike, all while working as a tailor during the day.
In hopes of identifying and honoring Holocaust and Genocide survivors and their descendants, Sonoma State University will host the documentary film “Big Sonia” on Sunday, March 10 at 5 p.m. at Schroeder Hall at the Green Music Center. The film is shown in collaboration with the Alliance for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide, the Center for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide and the Jewish Studies Program on campus. Since seating is limited, RSVPs to firstname.lastname@example.org are requested. Holocaust and Genocide survivors and descendants will be invited at a reception following the screening.
“A primary goal of this event is to reach out to local Holocaust and Genocide survivors and their descendants,” said Barbara Lesch McCaffry, president of the Alliance for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide. “As many Holocaust survivors are not with us or are no longer able to speak to others, the Alliance Education Committee has been actively working with child survivors of the Holocaust, Holocaust descendants and survivors and descendants of other genocides to share their family stories with students in local middle and high schools and with community groups.”
Now in its 37th year, the Alliance for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide is a non-profit organization at Sonoma State that supports an annual lecture series on the Holocaust and Genocide. They annually reach 2,000 to 3,000 young people and community members with presentations that address the impact of intolerance and bullying.
“This is an important movie,” said Brian Wilson, who has served as the coordinator of the university’s Jewish Studies Program. “It’s a story of love and healing but also one with the strong message that we should never forget the Holocaust, especially with the increase of anti-Semitism that is rising in this country."
“At a time when so many of the voices of Holocaust survivors have been stilled, Sonia Warshawski's message of courage, resilience and connection is an important reminder of the persistence of the human spirit," said Myrna Goodman, director of the Center for the Study of Holocaust and Genocide.
For more information visit the Center for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide, the Alliance for the Study of the Holocaust and Genocide and the Jewish Studies Program.