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KCET Commemorates Jewish History With Films, Food

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This year, Passover begins March 25 and ends April 2, and in recognition of the holiday -- and as a lead-in to Jewish Heritage Month in May -- KCET is airing a series of films that commemorate Jewish history and culture.

Sunday, April 7 @ 4:30PM -- "Rescue in the Philippines: Refuge from the Holocaust"

This film recounts a fascinating yet seldom-told chapter in World War II history. The documentary chronicles a real-life Casablanca, in which a high-profile group of poker buddies -- including Colonel Dwight Eisenhower -- hatched an intricate international plan of rescue and re-settlement, saving 1,300 Jews from certain death in Nazi concentration camps. "Rescue in the Philippines" tells this gripping story through interviews with historians, friends and relatives of the key participants, and first-person accounts from refugees who detail their harrowing escape from Europe and immigration to the Philippines.

Watch a preview:

Sunday, April 14 @ 4:30PM"Echoes of the Holocaust"

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The Holocaust Memorial on Miami Beach stands as a stark reminder and stunning symbol of anguish and tragedy. The memorial -- comprised of evocative stone and bronze sculptures, a meditation garden, a reflecting pool, an eternal flame and a granite wall -- honors the Holocaust's six million Jewish victims. Its centerpiece, "The Sculpture of Love and Anguish," features a giant outstretched arm tattooed with a number from Auschwitz rising from the earth, depicting the last desperate reach of a dying person. Today, some Holocaust survivors serve as docents for the memorial, sharing their stories of survival to schoolchildren, tourists and visitors from across the globe. "Echoes" captures four of these intimate tours. Docents Joe Dziubak, David Schaecter, Ann Rosenheck and Morris Rosenblat relive their personal tragedies -- of loved ones lost and their own private terror, pain and humiliations -- and recount the occasional miracle and their eventual liberation.

Visit the official site to watch a trailer.

Sunday, April 14, 21 and 28 @ 9PM -- "Nuremberg: Nazis on Trial"

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These gripping drama documentaries go behind the scenes in the cases against the three most notorious Nazis on trial: Hermann Goering, Rudolph Hess and Albert Speer. Based on rigorous research of historical records, Nuremberg combines eye-witness interviews and archive footage with high-end drama. It was a trial that made history. In the dock: 21 leading Nazis, all facing the death penalty. But the real story of Nuremberg took place away from the public eye, where lawyers and psychologists probed the minds of some of the most infamous men in history.

Read more about this series at the BBC's official site

Friday, April 14 @ 10PM -- "Finding Kalman"

In this moving documentary a charismatic Holocaust survivor inspires her family to connect to relatives they never met. Focusing on her brother, Kalman, Anna recounts tales of a mischievous boy who tried to escape the Warsaw ghetto with her. Her daughter, an artist, devours the stories and paints his portrait over and over again. As Kalman's face emerges on canvas, the film moves from archival Warsaw ghetto footage to summers in a Catskills bungalow colony-from vibrant family life before World War II to now. Four generations grapple differently with their shared history. Roz, the artist felt her mother's pain, understanding it in stages. Maya, an Israeli granddaughter expresses her passion playing the viola. Performing in an Arab-Israeli youth orchestra, she questions why there has to be war when she sees the ease of making music with someone defined as her enemy. Great-grandson Roy wonders with concern how his generation will understand the Holocaust when it seems like just another story. As the loving family that grew from one survivor celebrates together, the film shows how four generations find light even in the darkest of places-with a resiliency that provides hope for the future.

Thursday, April 28 @ 10:30PM -- "Where Birds Never Sing"

Ninety-six kilometers from Berlin is a pastoral setting accessible by a road that winds through a woods of pine trees. There one can recline on the sandy beach and look across to the town to Furstenberg, or watch local fisherman working from their docks and small boats, as they have for centuries. Furstenberg is a sylvan setting; quiet, peaceful, a place of refuge for citizens escaping the hubbub of Berlin. Not far from the center of this village is a wall, rather tall and imposing, made not of hand-cut stones, but of concrete. Even more starling, more incongruous, is the second wall of barbed wire. It is only then that we realize that behind this wall separating tranquility from history is Ravensbrueck, Hitler's largest concentration camp designed for women, a brutal camp where 92,000 women and children, out of 132,000 who were incarcerated there, met a cruel and inhumane death. Here medical experiments were conducted on the women, women guards used throughout the Nazi system were trained here, and the women were used as prostitutes for the SS and special prisoners.

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And be sure to check out special Passover recipes from KCET Food: meringue cookies and Ruth Reichl's corned beef.

Top image: Via Flicker user Government Press Office, under Creative Commons License.

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