Photograph leads to author’s discovery of family history

By Robert Hamilton….
Ann Helen Wainer will reveal how an old faded photograph prompted her to rescue the memories of her family’s plight during and after the Holocaust. Wainer will discuss her book, Family Portrait: A Memoir of a Jewish Family During The Holocaust, and share stories of her journey of discovery that led her to learn more about the people in the photograph, and ultimately, about herself, on Sunday, Nov. 7, 2 p.m., at the Jewish Museum of Florida.

The program is free for museum members and free with paid museum admission for non-members. Admission is adults, $6; seniors, $5; families, $12; children under 6, always free. Reservations can be made at 786-972-3175 or via email at Walk-ins are welcome.

Ann Helen Wainer’s family, the Kuperwassers, lived in Poland during Hitler’s rise to power and cautiously watched the events unfold in Nazi Germany. Like other Jewish families at the time, they faced an uncertain future. On the eve of the Holocaust, her grandfather gathered his clan for a family portrait. Amazingly, the photograph survived, as did the story of the Kuperwassers.

In this extraordinary memoir, Wainer reconstructs her family’s story through extensive research and countless interviews. The book is a two-fold picture. It is an image, frozen in time, of her extended family. And it also is the starting point from which Wainer begins to uncover the saga of her ancestors. Her discovery will spark memories for every Jewish family whose origins trace back to Europe during World War II.

The museum is presenting this program in preparation for an exhibit in September 2011 on Wooden Synagogues in Poland and Polish Jews who settled in Florida. The museum currently is collecting the stories, photographs and artifacts of Floridian Jews or their ancestors, such as Ann Helen Wainer’s, who came from Poland. If you or someone you know has materials for the exhibit, contact the museum at 786-972-3167 or so that your story may included.

Ann Helen Wainer is an attorney, legal scholar, and noted lecturer on environmental law in Brazil. She holds a master’s degree in religious studies and has conducted extensive research at the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. She was an Association for Religion and Intellectual Life (ARIL)/ Cross Currents Coolidge Fellow in 2006. Wainer and her family live in Aventura.

The Jewish Museum of Florida is housed in two adjacent lovingly restored historic buildings that were once synagogues for Miami Beach’s first Jewish congregation. The museum is located at 301 Washington Ave. in South Beach and is open daily 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. except Mondays and civil and Jewish holidays.

For information call 305-672-5044 or visit online at

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