Saluting Chinese and Japanese diplomats, Holocaust Museum Houston took a cultural turn to the Far East for the Lyndon Baines Johnson Moral Courage Award dinner at the Hilton Americas-Houston. Red Chinese and Japanese lanterns, bamboo centerpieces and a number of guests in Asian attire set the visual tone of the evening.
Close to 1,000 museum supporters turned out for the fundraiser that included entertainment by a Chinese band, by student dancers from the Oriental Arts Education Center and by soloist Iris Wei. Proceeds nudged $1.3 million for the museum.
The prestigious honors were awarded posthumously to Dr. Feng Shan Ho of China and Chiune Sugihara of Japan. Honorary dinner chair Chinese Consul General Li Qiangmin presented Ho's award to the late doctor's daughter, Manli Ho, Chinese Consul General in Vienna. Japanese Consul General Nozomu Takaoka presented Sugihara's award to the late diplomat's granddaughter, Madoka Sugihara, vice consul general for Japan in Lithuania; his daughter-in-law Michi Sugihara; and great-granddaughter, Oriha Sugihara.
The gentlemen were recognized for their efforts during World War II to save thousands of European Jews by issuing visas despite orders to the contrary from their superiors. Both were later named "Righteous Among the Nations" by Yad Vashem in Israel.
Former New York Times reporter Ellen Rodman, co-author of the new book Pepper, Silk and Ivory: Amazing Stories About Jews and the Far East, was the evening's keynote speaker.
Nancy and Jack Dinerstein chaired the event with co-chairs Nancy Li and Dr. Soner Tarim and Tracy and Brian Kapiloff.
Supporters included Sue and Lester Smith, Consul General of Israel Meir Shlomo, museum executive director Kelly Zuniga, Arthur Schechter, Gail and Dr. Milton Klein, Martine and Ricardo Weitz, Ginger Blanton, Eric Blumrosen, Heidi and David Gerger, Chris Kase, Mady and Ken Kades, Beth Wolff and Peter Berkowitz.