38th Annual ADL Governor’s Holocaust Remembrance Program Featured Holocaust Survivor Gene Klein and his daughter Dr. Jill Klein

  • May 20, 2019


Governor Jared Polis

On May 2, nearly 1,600 guests joined ADL for its 38th Annual Governor’s Holocaust Remembrance Program, one of the largest such events in the United States. This year’s program, at Temple Emanuel in Denver, featured a conversation between Holocaust Survivor Gene Klein and his daughter, Dr. Jill Klein, a professor specializing in resiliency.

In the spring of 1944, when Gene was 16 years old, he and his family were deported from their home in Hungary to the Auschwitz-Birkenau concentration camp in Poland. With an abundance of luck, a resilient mindset, and a powerful will to live, Gene managed to survive until his liberation by Soviet soldiers at the end of World War II. Gene’s story is captured in We Got the Water: Tracing My Family’s Path through Auschwitz, written by his daughter Jill. The memoir describes Gene’s concentration camp experiences, reveals how his mother and two sisters also survived the Holocaust, and traces his father’s final moments.

The program began with an invocation delivered by Rabbi Jeffrey Kaye that included a memorial reflection honoring the victims of the Poway, CA synagogue shooting just days prior, and for which he was joined by all clergy present. Governor Jared Polis delivered a “Message to Colorado” in which he spoke about the meaning of Holocaust remembrance from his perspective as Colorado’s first Jewish governor. ADL Regional Director Scott L. Levin delivered remarks in which he reflected on the tragedies of Pittsburgh, Christchurch, Poway and more as he shared that “everyone, no matter their religion, should be able to practice that religion free from fear and insecurity.” The evening also included a special memorial service and recognition of the winners of ADL’s A Tribute to Moral Courage Student Essay Contest.

ADL is grateful to the event sponsors: The Curtiss-Lusher Family, The Feiner Family Foundation, Michael and Debbie Feiner, MDC/Richmond American Homes Foundation, The Malman-Opatowski Family and in-kind sponsors Spectrum AV, Temple Emanuel and Rosenberg’s Kosher.

ADL thanks Mountain States Regional Board Members Adam Berger, Susan Brody and Sheryl Feiler for chairing the program.

Some photos from the event may be found below.

Clergy members from multiple faith traditions join Rabbi Jeffrey Kaye for a memorial for the Poway Chabad synagogue shooting


Governor Polis addresses the audience


Holocaust survivors and family members participate in lighting the Holocaust candelabra


ADL Regional Director Scott Levin


Dr. Jill Klein interviews her father, Holocaust survivor Gene Klein


ADL A Tribute to Moral Courage Student Essay Contest Winners – Division 1 Grades 7-9: L-R Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Miranda Deeths, Jackson Davidson, Lauren Hardin, ADL Regional Director Scott L. Levin


ADL A Tribute to Moral Courage Student Essay Contest Winners – Division 2 Grades 10-12, L-R: Mayor Michael B. Hancock, Julia Ross, Renesa Khanna, Lily Duncan