Social Justice Calendar
The Minister's War
Sponsored by Community Forum, Conejo Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship
Friday, December 7, 2012
3327 Old Conejo Road, Newbury Park, CA
The Minister’s War,” a film about the daring efforts of an American Unitarian minister and his wife to help Jews escape from Nazi-occupied Czechoslovakia and France, will be screened at a Community Forum in Newbury Park on Friday, Dec. 7. Waitstill and Martha Sharp, a young couple from Wellesley, Mass., risked their lives to rescue hundreds of refugees from Hitler' horrors in 1939 and 1940. Their story will be told at a 7:30 p.m. Community Forum screening and discussion at the Conejo Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship. In February of 1939, the Sharps left behind their 2-year-old daughter and 6-year-old son to travel to Prague at the behest of the Unitarian Service Committee. They arrived with $28,000 in relief aid only weeks before Hitler’s army invaded Czechoslovakia. The film recounts how over the next five months, they joined a secret network to feed and shelter Jews and others, and help them escape the country. The Sharps fled for their lives when they learned the Gestapo was about to arrest them. Months after returning to the U.S., they agreed to go to Lisbon to run a refugee center. From Portugal, the couple traveled to Nazi-occupied France and used risky methods like bribing guards and black market money-laundering to secure passage for refugees, according to the Holocaust remembrance organization Yad Vashem. The Sharps especially sought to rescue children. The film features interviews with adults in the U.S. whose parents made the heart-rending decision years ago to send them away to safety. Waitstill and Martha Sharp were honored posthumously in 2005 as Righteous Among the Nations by Yad Vashem. They are among three Americans given the honor out of more than 23,000 people recognized worldwide by the Israel-based organization. The 7:30 p.m. screening will be followed by a discussion led by the Rev. Dr. Betty Stapleford, minister emerita of the Conejo Valley Unitarian Universalist Fellowship, and her husband Tom. Rev. Stapleford is minister of the Unitarian Universalist Church of the Verdugo Hills in La Crescenta. The Staplefords were in a delegation representing Unitarian Universalists at the induction ceremony in Jerusalem in 2005. The screening and discussion are open to the public.
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