A screening of a film about the Holocaust, to be held Thursday at Mandell JCC in West Hartford, will be followed by a panel discussion on “The Mystery of Goodness,” about people who are compelled to help others at all costs.
The film to be screened is “The Rescuers,” a documentary about 13 diplomats who helped people escape from the Nazis. Among the diplomats profiled in the movie is Hiram Bingham of Salem, Connecticut. Bingham helped thousands of Jews leave France in 1940 and 1941. After the war, he never spoke about his wartime days.
Following the film, the panel discussion will be held. Panelists include Dr. Debórah Dwork, director of the Center for the Study of the Holocaust, Genocide, and Crimes Against Humanity at City University of New York; Dr. Stephanie Fagin-Jones, a Columbia University psychology professor; Dr. Joel N. Lohr, president of Hartford International University for Religion and Peace; and Dr. Sylvia Smoller, a scientist, writer and Holocaust survivor. The panel will be moderated by Dr. Avinoam J. Patt, director of the Center for Judaic Studies and Contemporary Jewish Life at the University of Connecticut.
Michael King, a native of New London, directed “The Rescuers,” which was executive-produced by Joyce Mandell, the benefactor and former president and board chair of Mandell JCC.
King said the “the mystery of goodness” inspired him to make his film.
“Why would someone risk their lives, their family, their career and go against their government’s policies to save someone they don’t even know?” King said. “I want to discover why individuals do that. I don’t know anyone like that.
“They saved thousands of lives and a lot of them faced retribution for doing it. [Aristides] de Sousa Mendez, it was decided that he was disobedient for saving human beings. Same with Chiune Sugihara. Hiram Bingham was drummed out of the diplomatic corps for saving lives,” he said.
The screening is at 6:45 p.m. at the JCC, 335 Bloomfield Ave. in West Hartford. Admission is $12. Tickets should be purchased in advance at mandelljcc.org.
In a private event before the screening, U.S. Rep. John Larson will honor Mandell with a certificate of special recognition, honoring her contributions to the Hartford community. That event is not open to the public.
According to the text of Larson’s declaration, the citation is “in recognition of [Mandell’s] philanthropic missions, service to the Greater Hartford Jewish community, and artistic, educational, and cultural support throughout the area.”
Susan Dunne can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.