After months of planning, Temple Sholom's LGBT groupknown as Am Keshet, which translated from Hebrew is, people of the rainbowlaunches a series of three stand-alone sessions about the Holocaust and its impact on the LGBT community.
Overlapping Triangles: Hidden Stories of the Holocaust kicks off Thursday, Dec. 11, with a viewing of the film Paragraph 175 and an interactive discussion about forgotten victims of Nazism. The event starts at 7:30 p.m. at Temple Sholom, 3480 N. Lake Shore Drive, in Chicago's Lake View neighborhood. ( Paragraph 175 dates back to 1871 and made gay acts in Germany between men a crime. )
The second session will be Jan. 12, focusing on the many communities and groups persecuted by the Nazis. Finally, on Jan. 27, there will be a discussion about the future of Holocaust education.
Chicago resident Danny M. Cohen, a Holocaust scholar, educator and author, who is married to Bernard Cherkasov, the CEO at Equality Illinois, will be speaking Dec. 11. An assistant professor of instruction at Northwestern University and the Crown Family Center for Jewish and Israel Studies, Cohen teaches Holocaust Memory, Holocaust Pedagogy and the Design of Human Rights Programs. He was appointed by Gov. Quinn to the Illinois Holocaust and Genocide Commission, was a faculty fellow of the Auschwitz Jewish Center and is a global justice fellow of the American Jewish World Service.
Cohen and Cherkasov were married at Temple Sholom in 2006.
Edwards Buice, 51, who lives in Bucktown, works as a flight attendant for American Airlines and has been partnered with Frank Buttitta, 56, for the past nine years, is the co-chairman and founder of Am Keshet at Temple Sholom. Andrew Simmons is the other co-chair and founder of Am Keshet.
Buice met Cohen about a year ago and they first discussed a one-session event around the Holocaust and how the LGBT community was impacted. It quickly grew to a three-session series that, Buice stressed, will be interactive, free and open to all Chicagoansgay, straight, Jewish, non-Jewish.
According to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, between 1933 and 1945, police arrested an estimated 100,000 men as homosexuals. Most of the 50,000 men sentenced by the courts spent time in regular prisons, and between 5,000 and 15,000 were interned in concentration camps. There are no known statistics for the number of homosexuals who died in the camps.
There are no known LGBT survivors of the Holocaust still living, Buice said he learned from Cohen.
"Even though Temple Sholom is a Jewish organization, we want to be a part of the whole [LGBT] community and we thought this discussion would be of interest," Buice said. "It's extremely important, especially for the younger generation, to understand that what we have achieved today was built through the sufferings and by those in the past who pushed the door open.
"Our story needs to be continuously told."
Buice added, "We want people to bring their thoughts, their questions, and let's build a dialogue, talk about this subject, build for the future."