Kol Israel Foundation has chosen the daughter of a Holocaust survivor to become its educator.
Marianne Lax, senior director of development at the Jack, Joseph and Morton Mandel School of Applied Social Sciences at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, will begin the position
“We are thrilled to have someone of Marianne’s caliber join Kol Israel and enable us to take Holocaust education in Cleveland to the next level,” Muriel Weber, president of Kol Israel Foundation, said in a news release. “As we face increased anti-Semitism and hate around the word, this education is needed now more than ever,”
“I look forward to working with Marianne as we expand our education offerings and reach out to new schools, universities and community organizations,” said Hallie Duchon, executive director of Kol Israel Foundation in the release.
Kol Israel Foundation acquired Face to Face, Congregation Shaarey Tikvah’s Holocaust education program on Jan. 1, 2019. Kol Israel has its own education program called Sharing Our Stories. The two programs, the on-site Face to Face program and Sharing Our Stories, will both continue in tandem under Lax’s leadership.
Face to Face is based at Shaarey Tikvah and includes tours of the Beachwood synagogue, its Holocaust exhibit, and a talk with a Holocaust survivor.
Sharing Our Stories pairs video testimony of a Holocaust survivor with a talk by a second- or third-generation Holocaust survivor at schools throughout northeast Ohio.
Louise Freilich, director of Face to Face, will retire on June 30. The overlap between Freilich and Lax was designed to ease the transition.
A Cleveland native, Lax graduated from Orange High School in Pepper Pike in 1977, majored in criminal justice and juvenile delinquency, and has a master’s degree of social service administration from CWRU’s school of applied sciences.
She said as the generation of survivors dwindles, the level of understanding of the Holocaust is getting less sophisticated among Americans.
“It’s easy to forget,” she said. “It’s easy to rewrite. It‘s easy to change.”
Lax’s father, Martin Lax, who was born in Romania, wrote a book about his experience, “Caraseau.”
He was part of Kol Israel, a group of survivors in Greater Cleveland who formed a group in 1959.
“He did discuss and express his information and his emotions around the Holocaust,” she said. “I think my experience with my father frames my entire lens of the world.”
Lax traveled with her father to Europe as an adult, including to the concentration camps in Austria where he was pressed into labor.
In addition, she traveled back to Romania after his death.
“We also traced, as much as we could, we traced his journey,” she said.
Lax has received training from the Anti-Defamation League’s World Tolerance Institute in anti-bias and diversity training.
Her professional experience has been a mix of clinical and fundraising work. She has held several positions at Case since 2013. She has also worked at the Jewish Federation of Cleveland in fundraising positions and for the Cleveland Metropolitan School District as director of health and human services. Among her affiliations, she serves on the board of the Hebrew Free Loan Association.
Lax said she is excited to start her work and feels its importance during a time of rising anti-Semitism.
“They’ve done a wonderful job,” Lax said. “It’ll be very exciting to take it to the next level. I’m anxious to work with Halle to determine what those next steps are.”
Lax lives in Pepper Pike with her husband, Charles Sheehe. She has two adult children, Emma and Ian Limoli.