Thursday, April 28, 2016



Holocaust Commemoration at the Kaplen JCC on the Palisades features Film Screening of

Besa: The Promise & Fine Arts Photography Exhibit

WHEN: Wed, May 4, 7 – 9 pm
Kaplen JCC on the Palisades, 411 E. Clinton St., Tenafly

Besa: The Promise weaves the first-person accounts of two men: Norman H. Gershman, a renowned Jewish-American photographer who documented the lives of Albanian Muslims who rescued Jews during the Holocaust, with another, Rexhep Hoxha, who sought to fulfill the promise his father made to a Jewish family by returning a set of Judaic books they left behind.

With Norman’s help, Rexhep embarks on a journey to Bulgaria and Israel, where his promise amounts to more than words. His promise is his besa, an honor code that pledges all Albanians to offer safe harbor to refugees – a pledge that was steadfastly observed during the war as not a single Jew was betrayed by an Albanian citizen when the Nazis occupied their country. This true and heroic story is about a nation of everyday heroes who recognized their common humanity, remained true to their promises, and risked their lives for strangers.

Underscoring the film’s message and impact, the evening will also feature an exhibition of Norman Gershman’s moving black and white portraits of Jews who were rescued in Albania and Kosovo during the war. The show, which will remain on display in the Waltuch Gallery at the JCC for the month of May, is a perfect companion to the film, revealing a hidden period in history and a highly compassionate side of ordinary people saving other people’s lives. Gershman’s photographs are represented in museums throughout the world. They have been featured in exhibits by Yad Vashem in Israel and the United Nations in New York.

The commemoration will conclude with the presentation of the Abe Oster Holocaust Remembrance Award to a high school student who creates a work of fine art that conveys the continuing relevance of the Holocaust in the 21st century and a candle-lighting ceremony, led by five Holocaust survivors and their families.

The program is made possible each year through the Martin Perlman & Jo-Ann Hassan Holocaust Education Institute.

For more information, call Ruth Yung at 201.408.1418 or