Tulsa’s Interfaith Holocaust Commemoration

Thursday, May 1, 2008 at 7:00 p.m. the annual Interfaith Yom HaShoah
Commemoration will take place at Temple Israel, 2004 East 22 Place.

The theme for this year’s commemoration is “Witnesses Among Us: Honoring
World War II Holocaust Survivors and Their American Liberators” and will
feature Mr. Robbie Waisman, child survivor of the Holocaust and Dr. Leon
Bass, American soldier and liberator at Buchenwald concentration camp.

Mr. Waisman was 14 years old when he was liberated from Buchenwald on April
11, 1945. At age 19, Dr. Bass, an American army sergeant, was one of his
liberators. The two became friends and have remained so since that time,
often appearing together to speak of their experiences during World War II.

In keeping with the theme, “Witnesses Among Us”, this year’s commemoration
will honor those American soldiers, who at great sacrifice to their own
lives, defeated Hitler’s armies and ended the genocide against the Jews of

A candle lighting ceremony is a significant part of the Yom HaShoah
commemoration and will feature veterans from the Tulsa community.

The Tulsa Boys Singers will perform several commemorative songs in keeping
with the theme.

The program is also a culmination of Holocaust studies in area schools.
Student exhibits, based on this year’s theme, will be on display that
evening. Many of the teachers who teach the Holocaust and their students
will attend the program and be recognized.

The commemoration is open to the entire community with seating on a first
come basis.

Dr. Leon Bass is coming to Tulsa from Newtown, Pennsylvania. He holds a
Ph.D. in Urban Education from Temple University, as well as a M.A. in
Educational Administration. Dr. Bass has served as a teacher and a school
principal. He is a lifetime member of the NAACP and the Interfaith Council
on the Holocaust.

Dr. Bass has been awarded numerous awards and honors, including the Pearlman
Award for Humanitarian Achievement by the Jewish Women International; the
Distinguished Humanitarian Award from NYC Technical College, and most
recently in 2008, the Drum Major for Justice Award during the Dr. Martin
Luther King Celebration.

Dr. Bass served in the U.S. Army, 183rd Engineers Combat Battalion, 3rd Army
Division from 1943 to 1946. As a 19 year old African-American sergeant
serving in a segregated army unit when he encountered the “walking dead” of
Buchenwald, he tried to repress his memories of the horrors which he saw.

In the 1960’s, Dr. Bass became involved in the Civil Rights movement and
began teaching. He met a Holocaust survivor and felt moved to declare to
his students what he had seen at Buchenwald.

Mr. Robbie Waisman was born in Poland to a close knit family. Except for
one sister, Waisman’s entire family was murdered in the Holocaust. As a
child, Waisman survived several concentration camps and was liberated from
Buchenwald in 1945. He spent the next 4 years in France, catching up on his
education and working to rehabilitate himself from his experiences.

Waisman left Europe and arrived in Calgary, Canada in December, 1949. In
1959 with his new bride, Gloria Lyons, the Waismans moved to Saskatoon.

Waisman, an accountant by profession, dedicates a great deal of his time to
Holocaust education, speaking to thousands of individuals every year about
his experiences in the Holocaust.

Waisman has served in many voluntary positions, including President of the
Board of Agudas Israel Synagogue in Saskatoon and Vice President of the
Yukon Hotel Association. He is the immediate Past President of the
Vancouver Holocaust Center for Remembrance and Education.

While in Tulsa, Dr. Bass and Mr. Waisman will speak to students at Booker T.
Washington High School and other high schools. They will also meet with
American veterans to honor their service in the liberation of Nazi-occupied

The Council for Holocaust Education is a partnership of the Jewish
Federation of Tulsa and the Sherwin Miller Museum of Jewish Art. Many Tulsa
organizations are participating in the Interfaith Yom HaShoah program.

For further information, please contact the Jewish Federation of Tulsa at