A free film screening and community panel discussion
Refreshments from Lowell’s ethnic restaurants
The Tsongas Industrial History Center (TIHC), a partnership between the UMass Lowell Graduate School of Education and Lowell National Historical Park (LNHP), presents “Browsing Through Birke’s: A Documentary Film about a Family, a Clothing Business, and the Legacies of Genocide,” a Mass Humanities Open Discussion project for members of the Lowell community.
The documentary profiles a family whose business was well-known for its eccentricity. The Birkes’ personal history was less well-known: proprietors Nathan and Sally Birke were Jewish Holocaust survivors. At a time when rhetoric about immigrants and refugees makes daily news, the film shows that whatever compels people to flee their homeland can have powerful and long-lasting effects, but human resilience is equally or more powerful.
Following the film, Dr. Robert Forrant, Distinguished University Professor, will host a panel discussion with Szifra Brike, whose parents ran Birke’s Department Store from 1947 to 1997. Other panelists will include of three individuals who came as refugees to Lowell:
Noel Twagiramungu, visiting assistant professor, UMass Lowell Political Science Department Noel is a survivor of the horrors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
Sonith Peou, director of the Lowell Community Health Center (LCHC) Metta Health Center. Sonith came to the U.S. as a refugee from Cambodia.
Rafal Thaher, business student, Middlesex Community College. Rafal came to the US five years ago from Iraq.