Loading Events

Join us for a discussion about the Hungarian born Holocaust survivor Alice Lok Cahana, whose life and art are recently recognized in two very different ways: The just remastered, Academy Award®-winning documentary, The Last Days, presented by Steven Spielberg and USC Shoah Foundation and the book Immortality, Memory, Creativity, and Survival: The Arts of Alice Lok Cahana, Ronnie Cahana, and Kitra Cahanarecently published by the Fritz Ascher Society of Persecuted, Ostracized and Banned Art, which investigates three generations of the Cahana family and their art in the context of biological and psychological research, allowing a deep understanding of how trauma and especially the Holocaust experience is remembered.

This event investigates the portrayal of Alice Lok Cahana, her life and art, in art book and documentary film, the decisions that went into the production of each, as well as the strengths and limitations of each medium in capturing Alice and educating a broader audience about her experiences during the Holocaust, and how they affected her.

Panel discussion featuring
Michael Berenbaum
Historian, The Last Days; Director of the Sigi Ziering Institute,
and Past Executive Director of USC Shoah Foundation
Rabbi Michael Cahana
Congregation Beth Israel;
Alice’s son and part of her legacy of multi-valent creativity
Ken Lipper
Academy Award®-Winning Producer, The Last Days;
Chairman of Lipper & Co
Ori Z Soltes
Teaching Professor, Georgetown University, Washington D.C.;
Editor of Immortality, Memory, Creativity, and Survival: The Arts of Alice Lok Cahana, Ronnie Cahana, and Kitra Cahana
Moderated by
Rachel Stern
Director & CEO, Fritz Ascher Society for Persecuted, Ostracized and Banned Art

The Last Daysthe Academy Award®-winning documentary feature executive produced by Steven Spielberg, directed by James Moll, produced by June Beallor and Ken Lipper, and featuring music by Hans Zimmer, has been remastered and is streaming worldwide on Netflix in 33 languages. The film was also re-released by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment to own on Blu-ray, as part of USC Shoah Foundation’s Stronger Than Hate Initiative.

The Last Days traces the compelling experiences of five Hungarian Holocaust survivors who fell victim to Adolf Hitler’s brutal war against the Jews during the final days of World War II. The film shares the remarkable stories of five people – a grandmother, a teacher, a businessman, an artist, and a U.S. congressman – as they return from the United States to their hometowns, and to the ghettos and concentration camps that once imprisoned them. Through the eyes of the survivors and other witnesses, including a former Nazi doctor at Auschwitz, the film recounts one of the darkest chapters in human history. Above all, The Last Days is a potent depiction of personal strength and courage, and a testament to the power of the human spirit.

Immortality, Memory, Creativity, and Survival: The Arts of Alice Lok Cahana, Ronni Cahana, and Kitra Cahana starts with the art of Holocaust survivor Alice Lok Cahana. How have artistic sensibilities, traumatic memory—and a sense of obligation to improve the world—been expressed through three generations of her family—both in who her children and grandchildren are and in how they express themselves artistically? The book investigates this layered issue from other angles: what have recent biological and psychological investigations offered, regarding what memory is and how it works, if and how trauma can be carried in the DNA—and the implications of all of this for understanding the impact of catastrophes like the Holocaust beyond the generation of those who experienced them directly.

The book was generously sponsored by the Consulate General of the Federal Republic of Germany in New York.


Michael Berenbaum is a writer, lecturer, and teacher consulting in the conceptual development of museums and the development of historical films. He is director of the Sigi Ziering Institute: Exploring the Ethical and Religious Implications of the Holocaust at the American Jewish University where he is also a Professor of Jewish Studies. He was the Executive Editor of the Second Edition of the Encyclopaedia Judaica.
For the past three years, he was President and Chief Executive Officer of the Survivors of the Shoah Visual History Foundation. From 1988–93 he served as Project Director of the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, overseeing its creation. He was Deputy Director of the President’s Commission on the Holocaust where he authored its Report to the President.
Berenbaum is the author and editor of 22 books, scores of scholarly articles, and hundreds of journalistic pieces. His work in film has earned multiple awards. He has been the producer, co-producer, executive producer, historical consultant, writer and interviewer and interviewee on more than two dozen films in multiple languages broadcast throughout the world.

Rabbi Michael Z Cahana is the middle child of Alice Lok Cahana. He also is Senior Rabbi of Congregation Beth Israel in Portland, Oregon. Born in Houston, Texas, Rabbi Cahana comes from multiple generations of rabbis including his late father, Rabbi Moshe Cahana, and his older brother, Rabbi Ronnie Cahana. Rabbi Cahana began with a career in theater, including acting, directing, and theatrical design. In 1994, he became the first Reform rabbi in his family’s long rabbinic history. Rabbi Cahana integrates his rabbinical training with his theater background to create an environment in which prayer becomes an art form.

Kenneth Lipper is the Academy Award®-winning producer of The Last Days. He wrote the novel and original screenplay for City Hall as well as produced the film, produced the play & film The Winter Guest, and was the chief technical advisor of the film and author of the novel Wall Street. He is the co-publisher of the Lipper/Viking Penguin “Penguin Lives” biography series.
Kenneth Lipper is chairman of Lipper & Co, an investment bank and investment management company. He was the Commissioner of Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, served as New York City’s Deputy Mayor under Mayor Ed Koch, and was General Partner of investment banks Lehman Brothers and Salomon Brothers. He was also Adjunct Professor at the School of International and Public Affairs, Columbia University.

Ori Z Soltes teaches at Georgetown University across the disciplines of theology, art history, philosophy and politics. He is the former Director and Curator of the B’nai B’rith Klutznick National Jewish Museum where he curated some 80 exhibitions. He is the author of several hundred articles and catalogue essays, and the author or editor of 24 books, including The Ashen Rainbow: The Holocaust and the Arts; Symbols of Faith: How Jewish, Christian, and Muslim Art Draw from the Same Source; and Tradition and Transformation: Three Millennia of Jewish Art and Architecture.

Alice Lok Cahana, Detail of Raoul Wallenberg-Schutz Pass, 93 1/4 x 112 inches, mixed media on canvas and paper, 1981.

Event Partner

Share This