In 1952, volunteers from the National Council of Jewish Women met boats at the New Orleans Port of Embarkation filled with passengers escaping the Nazi regime. Volunteers helped these families through customs and served them food at the Jewish Community Center. They also served as interpreters, helping the immigrants connect with family in the United States and secure housing. These survivors, with the support of the Council of Jewish Women, settled into schools and jobs and found a sense of community within what would be known as the New Americans Club of New Orleans.
Tulane University's Lawrence N. Powell wrote, "Approximately 140,000 Holocaust survivors came to America after 1948, when Congress passed a new immigration law. Most settled in the New York area. The remainder flowed through such ports as New Orleans on their way to new homes on the prairies and the West Coast; about 150 of them settled in New Orleans.
They were mainly in their 20s and 30s. Often they formed their own communities, standing in as aunts and uncles for each other’s American-born children. (In New Orleans they called themselves the New Americans.) They prospered as small businessmen, independent craftsmen, professionals. They scrimped to educate their children. By 1953, only 2 percent of the postwar immigrants still required outside assistance; by 1990, their per capita income far exceeded the national average, as did that of their children."
The New Orleans Holocaust Memorial sits in Woldenberg Mississippi Riverpark, which was built in 1984 for the New Orleans World’s Fair. The art sculpture, dedicated in 2003, was designed by Israeli sculptor Yaacov Agam as a tribute to victims of the Holocaust and his commitment to telling their story.
May their memory be for a blessing.
Holocaust Memorial Committee
Betty B. Lazarus, Chair
Mara Baumgarten Force
Rabbi David Gerber
Marilynn Galler Wohlstadter
Wendy Goldberg, Associate Director JCC
Judy L. Yaillen, Director of Jewish Family Life, JCC
If you’re a member of the JCC, odds are that you’ve encountered the energetic and encouraging presence that is Michele Huck. As an instructor at the JCC for six years, Michele has done a little bit of everything from cycling, senior chair exercise, Barre, HIIT, and what she’s known most for these days –– LOTS of Aqua Fit....