“A Survivor’s Story”

Morris Bendit “A Survivor’s Story”

In commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day 

Worship Leader: Linda Mowers
Accompanist: Gary Smart
Guest Musician:  Sunshine Simmons, Clarinet

About our Service:

Morris Bendit, Holocaust Survivor, and Witness, born January 22, 1941. In July 1941, his home-town was invaded by the Nazi’s. In October 1941, the Jews were forced out of their homes with only what they could carry. When asked how he survived, he stated it was a miracle. His mother, aunt, and grandmother were the only survivors of his immediate family that was transported to the largest killing field, called TRANSNISTRIA. Since he is one of the youngest survivors, he believes that it is his duty to “tell the story,” as this generation is passing away, and no one will be left to remind us of this atrocious event in history. Why is it important to “tell this story?” To prevent people from denying that it ever happened and to keep history from repeating itself.

About our Speaker

Morris Bendit was born in Chernovitz, Ukraine during World War II and he will share his personal story with us about his and his family’s experience in the killing fields. After surviving the Holocaust, the remaining family returned to their home in Chernovitz, then moved to Romania in hopes of going to the new State of Israel. In 1949 the family immigrated to Israel, and Morris soon joined the Israeli navy at the age of 17 for a 30-month tour.  His mother later remarried and moved to Montreal, Canada, and as soon as he completed his military service, Morris also moved to Canada and found a job in a machine shop. Looking to improve himself, he moved to Long Island, NY and opened his own precision metal fabrication business. He met his wife, Hanna, also an Israeli immigrant and had three daughters.

After closing his business in 1980, the family moved to Nashville, and then to Jacksonville where Morris started an antique repair and restoration business. Today, he spends time with his family and repairs furniture on the side. He also talks about his past to all who will listen because he is passionate about making sure that people know the truth of the Holocaust.

About our Guest Musician:

A performer of uncommon flair and versatility, clarinetist Sunshine Simmons completed her Doctor of Music degree at Northwestern University.  She is currently the Assistant Professor of Clarinet at the University of North Florida with a wide range of experience, accomplishments, and accolades in symphony orchestras, solo performances, festivals and solo performances in the US and around the globe. A native of Pennsylvania, Sunshine holds a Bachelor of Music degree from Carnegie Mellon University and a Master of Music degree from Northwestern University.  Her principal teachers include J. Lawrie Bloom, Steven Cohen, and Thomas Thompson.  Other significant mentors were Joaquin Valdepeñas and Dennis Smylie.  Sunshine is a Buffet Group USA Artist.

Dr. Gary Smart is a regular accompanist and long-time member of BBUUC. He will be accompanying Dr. Dickman on piano. We are so fortunate to have him share his musical gifts with us, and for the many wonderful musicians that he has brought to our services. His career has encompassed a wide range of activities as composer, classical and jazz pianist, and teacher. Dr. Smart has spent two residencies in Japan, teaching in programs at Osaka University and Kobe College. He has also taught in Indonesia as “Distinguished Lecturer in Jazz” under the auspices of the Fulbright program. From 1999-2003, he served as Chairman of the UNF Music Department. Gary Smart is currently a Presidential Professor of Music at the University of North Florida.