International Holocaust Remembrance Day Commemoration

Presented in partnership with the Jewish Federation & the Roth Jewish Community Center

Original Program Date: January 24, 2021

On this day we came together to remember one of the most heinous crimes of our time; the systematic killing of 6 million Jewish men women and children and millions of others by the Nazis and their collaborators in the Holocaust.

On January 27th 1945, the Auschwitz Birkenau concentration camp and death camp was liberated by Soviet forces.  Since 2005 the United Nations designated this day to officially be recognized as the International day of commemoration in memory of the victims of the Holocaust.

The liberation of the death camps ended the carnage but horrified the world as the full scope of the Nazis crimes became clear.  Out of this horror the United Nations was created to bring countries together for peace and our common humanity and to prevent any repetition of such crimes against humanity.  With the resurgence of hatred in recent years and recent days, from violent extremism to attacks on places of worship, with the most recent attack just days ago, where extremist movements demonstrated this hate with a clear show of words, symbols and actions by attacking our nation’s Capitol, and our democracy.

This shows that antisemitism and other forms of religious bigotry, racism and prejudice are still very much with us.  Neo Nazis and white supremacists are resurgent, as are their continued efforts to diminish the Holocaust and deny or downplay the responsibility of perpetrators.

But just as hate persists, so must our resolve to fight it.

Our work is truly now more relevant than ever.

Today, and every day we commemorate the victims of the Holocaust by pursuing truth, remembrance,  education and by building peace and justice around the world.

We pledge that we will never forget,

We vow to tell their stories and

We promise to honor the victims of the Holocaust by defending everyone’s rights to live with dignity in a just and peaceful world.

We hope you were be inspired by today’s program, where we paid tribute to the millions of lives lost, through a candle lighting and a commemorative reading of the names of concentration camps, dates of liberation, and powerful words of inspiration, read by local students.  A special thank you to Hayley Perroti, Adrian Delgato, Sydney Koster, Maureen Earle, Leanne Lemon, Reagan Tobyansen.

Rabbi David Kay concluded the event with the reciting of the Mourner’s Kaddish.


About Ralph Preiss

Ralph was born in Breslau, Germany in 1930. (It is now Wroclaw, Poland).

His father was a Jewish physician working under socialized medicine in a little farming town, Rosenberg O/S (now Olesno). When Hitler came to power in 1933, he fired all Jewish professionals (teachers, lawyers, doctors, dentists, engineers, scientists) working for the government. But since there were not enough replacements available, his father did not lose his job till the spring of 1938. By then, the Jews that had managed to get out of Germany before then had used up the quotas of immigrants to other lands so that there were only openings in Shanghai and the Philippines. More than 400 people applied for permission and Ralph and his family were lucky to receive visas and they arrived in Manila March 23, 1939.

The family was not allowed to bring money out of Germany. Having an expired German passport permitted them to live out of Japanese concentration camps during the war.  They survived liberation by joining guerillas on Mt Banahaw for a few months. Ralph will share their harrowing story of survival and triumph.

Ralph was introduced by his nephew, Keith Dvorchik.

Born in Gainesville, FL and growing up in both Harrisburg, PA and Philadelphia, PA, Keith received a BS in Accounting and an Masters of Education in Counseling from the Pennsylvania State University before returning to Florida where he ran the Hillel at the University of Florida for 15 years before going to Seattle, WA to head the Jewish Federation of Greater Seattle in 2013.  In October 2016 he took over as the CEO at the Roth Jewish Community Center of Orlando and in 2018 he also became the Executive Director of The Jewish Federation of Greater Orlando.


While at UF Hillel, Keith built a world class Hillel including a capital campaign to build the beautiful Norman H. Lipoff Hall, a 23,000 square foot iconic facility, located directly across from campus.  In Seattle, Keith oversaw the reimagining of the Federation to address 21st century needs.  Now in Orlando, Keith is excited about the role of the JCC in our community and the Federation as the architect for the Jewish future.

Keith has been married to his wife Alison for 22 years and has two sons, Evan, age 20, and Matthew, age 18.


Thank you to our partners!