The Story of Harry Reiss and the Creation of the Rockland Center for Holocaust Studies

 

 “Not to Forget: The Story of Harry Reiss and the Creation of the Rockland Center for Holocaust Studies” by Marion Reiss

Book Launching – October 17, 2013

Part of the joy and the pain of writing this book was what became an almost third person detachment from the story– making me an observer as well as a recorder of the events therein. At times I felt that I was watching the people involved in the creation of the Center – the founders, builders, the helpers and member of the board, administrators, public figures  at various times walking across a stage , the history of the Center unfolding as they appeared and disappeared from view. 

When I was asked about my feelings at the Book Launching event held at RCC this past October, what most came to my mind were the people who inhabited the pages and told the story. Whether the participants were in the audience themselves or were remembered that evening, it was their story that came alive for me and I hope for those who would read the book.

It seemed very fitting to me therefore to try to track down some of the protagonists in the book who were still alive but far from view.  One of the closest to my heart was Georgine Hyde, who together with my dear late husband, Harry Reiss, and Dr. Harold Siegelbaum OBM comprised the original triumvirate who established the guidelines for the creation of the Rockland Center for Holocaust Studies and carried its mission to fruition. 

I was successful in finding Georgine and bringing my book to her. Her happy and enthusiastic reaction as I read some of the opening passages to her brought her to burst into a happy mixture of Czech and English. The picture attached tells the whole story.

Another of my personal moments of gratification in writing this book came in a telephone conversation I had with Professor David Wyman after I had sent him my manuscript for endorsement. He called me and inquired about the sources. When I told him that I had boxes and boxes of my husband’s notes and scraps of paper going back 30 years, he interjected that having lost his wife some 8 years before, he spent much time in reading the years of journals that she had left and while he was doing so she was still alive for him.  For a moment we were both caught up in personal memories. For in all the years of my writing this book, every hand written note, every newspaper clipping , every letter I found ,  kept my husband close at my side. Of course, that did not help when I found three hand written versions of one particular speech  and then had  to remember which was  the one he ultimately gave.  But that too was part of the process and I smile still as I write it now.                

 Marion Reiss