March 2, 2024
Saved by Schindler’s List | Celina Biniaz | Jewish-American Heritage Month | USC Shoah Foundation

Saved by Schindler’s List | Celina Biniaz | Jewish-American Heritage Month | USC Shoah Foundation

Saved by Schindler’s List | Celina Biniaz | Jewish-American Heritage Month | USC Shoah Foundation

Author: USC Shoah Foundation via YouTube
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Saved by Schindler’s List | Celina Biniaz | Jewish-American Heritage Month | USC Shoah Foundation

Holocaust survivor Celina Biniaz was the youngest female on Oskar Schindler’s famed list. Celina survived the Kraków Ghetto, Nazi labor camps, and Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp before being rescued by Oskar Schindler, the German businessman who saved more than 1,000 Jews from the Holocaust.

Celina, 91, is a longtime friend of USC Shoah Foundation. Both Celina and her mother recorded testimony for USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive in 1996. For many years after the war, Celina was reluctant to share her story because she feared no one could comprehend what she had been through. That changed in 1994, when Steven Spielberg brought Oskar Schindler’s story to the screen with Schindler’s List and established Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation, which later became USC Shoah Foundation.

Celina often says that “Oskar Schindler gave me life, but Steven Spielberg gave me a voice.” Some of Celina’s testimony was included as an extra feature on a DVD release of Schindler’s List, to help fight Holocaust denial.

At a gala celebrating the 20th anniversary of USC Shoah Foundation, where President Barack Obama was honored, Spielberg recognized Celina as a “living symbol” of why he established the Visual History Archive.

In April 2023, Wonder Woman star Gal Gadot, whose grandfather was sent to Auschwitz at the age of 13 and was the only member of his family to survive the Holocaust, opened her Los Angeles home to friends and family to host an intimate conversation with Celina. The 50 guests at Gadot’s home included numerous children, as well as actors Sacha Baron Cohen, Isla Fisher, and Harvey Keitel, and Wonder Woman director Patty Jenkins. The remarkable program was a Zikaron BaSalon event. Zikaron BaSalon is a grassroots Israel-based initiative that brings Holocaust survivor experiences into homes and common spaces around the world. Learn how to host your own Zikaron BaSalon event at https://sfi.usc.edu/zikaron-basalon.

May is Jewish American Heritage Month, an opportunity to recognize and celebrate the innumerable contributions Jewish people have made to American life for over 350 years.

The idea for an annual commemoration of Jewish Americans originated with President Jimmy Carter, who in 1979 established a Jewish Heritage Week. In 2006, Congress unanimously passed a resolution expanding the tribute to encompass the entire month of May.

The celebration of Jewish American Heritage Month coincides with the anniversary of the arrival of the first Jewish immigrants in North America in 1654.

In the time since 23 Sephardic Jews disembarked in New Amsterdam (now New York City), Jewish Americans have added to American society in every conceivable way—be it as Supreme Court Justices, members of Congress, in military service or as leaders in business, academia and the arts.

USC Shoah Foundation’s Visual History Archive contains more than 52,000 testimonies from survivors and witnesses of the Holocaust. In this first of three installments, we celebrate Jewish American Heritage Month by sharing the testimonies of Jewish Americans who embody the vibrant and diverse culture that has immeasurably enriched us all.

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About USC Shoah Foundation:
USC Shoah Foundation – The Institute for Visual History and Education develops
empathy, understanding and respect through testimony, using its Visual History Archive of more than 55,000 video testimonies, academic programs and partnerships across USC and 170 universities, and award-winning IWitness education program. USC Shoah Foundation’s interactive programming, research and materials are accessed in museums and universities, cited by government leaders and NGOs, and taught in classrooms around the world. Now in its third decade, USC Shoah Foundation reaches millions of people on six continents from its home at the University of Southern California.

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