Skip to navigation

YIVO Institute for Jewish Research

Support YIVO
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research » About YIVO » Press Room »

Search YIVO


Visitor Information

Worldwide Branches

Directors & Staff Contact List

Press Room

YIVO in the Media

Yedies - YIVO Newsletter



What is Yiddish?

YIVO on Facebook
YIVO on Twitter

Newsletter Sign-up

8th Annual YIVO Heritage Luncheon on May 6, 2009, to Honor Saul Kagan, Drs. Emilia and Alexander Sedlis, and Eta Wrobel (in memoriam)

PRESS NEWS : For immediate release
Media inquiries :
Elise Fischer
tel. 212-294-6131
e-mail :
YIVO Institute for Jewish Research
15 West 16th Street - New York - NY - 10011
[New York City - NY]  The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research will honor Saul Kagan (Lifetime Achievement Award), Drs. Emilia and Alexander Sedlis (Vilna Award) and Eta Wrobel, in memoriam (Special YIVO Recognition Award), at its 8th Annual Heritage Luncheon on May 6, 2009, at the Center for Jewish History. Lorin Sklamberg, YIVO Sound Archivist and founding member of the Klezmatics, will perform a special program of Jewish music.

The event begins at noon at the Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street in Manhattan. This annual luncheon is being officially renamed the Eta Wrobel Annual Heritage Luncheon at YIVO. The luncheon couvert is $275. Please call 917.606.8287 to make reservations.

A native of Vilna, Saul Kagan is the Executive Vice-President of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany (Claims Conference), formed in 1951 by the major Jewish organizations of the world.  Kagan has devoted his life to justice for Holocaust survivors through his professional work with the Claims Conference, with which he has been professionally associated for more than 50 years. More than $60 billion in compensation payments to Holocaust survivors throughout the world have resulted from Claims Conference agreements. Since 1990, Kagan and the Claims Conference have focused on recovery of heirless and unclaimed Jewish property in the former East Germany. Kagan first became involved in tracing Jewish property confiscated by the Nazis immediately after World War II, when he served as Chief of Financial Intelligence for the U.S. Military Government in Germany. He is a longtime friend of YIVO and works with many Jewish organizations focused on restitution and care of Holocaust survivors.
Drs. Emilia and Alexander Sedlis are part of a family tradition of medical practice. Beginning with Alexander’s father, Dr. Elias Sedlis, a busy obstetrician-gynecologist in Vilna who served as Director of the Vilna Jewish Hospital and as Chairman of the Union of Jewish Physicians, the family has been involved in medicine and community service for several generations. Alexander is today Professor Emeritus of Obstetrics and Gynecology at the State University of New York – Downstate (Brooklyn). Emilia is a retired Clinical Professor in Pediatrics at the NYU Medical Center. The medical tradition continues with their son Steven, an Associate Professor of Medicine at NYU School of Medicine and chief interventional cardiologist at the Manhattan VA Hospital. Alexander’s brother Gabriel, one of the youngest Jewish partisans fighting with the Abba Kovner Brigade in the Rudnicki Forest, was a successful architect in New York. His son James is a pediatrician and sports medicine specialist in Connecticut. Emilia and Alexander, their sons Daniel and Steven, and their four grandchildren share the individual strength and community values that originated in the Vilna Jewish community. The award will be accepted in honor and memory of the entire Sedlis family.
The late Eta Wrobel, a longtime YIVO friend and the Founding Chair of YIVO’s International Women’s Committee, was born in Lukow, Poland, the only child in a family of ten to survive the Holocaust. Born a fighter, she showed remarkable courage and strength as a Jewish partisan in Nazi-occupied Poland. In My Life, My Way: The Extraordinary Memoir of a Jewish Partisan in WWII Poland (2006), she describes her activities as a resistance leader, illustrating also the considerable role women played in the wartime Jewish resistance in Poland. Eta married Henry Wrobel in December 1944; in 1947 they moved to New Jersey. They have three children and nine grandchildren. Her children have described Eta as a person “with the soul of a poet and the resolve of a soldier . . . everything she did was intended as Tikkun Olam, to help leave a healing world and a revitalized Jewish life for her descendants.” It is because of her energy and dedication to YIVO, yidishkayt, and Holocaust remembrance that this event is being named in her memory. Henry Wrobel and their children will accept this award.

“We are proud to have such distinguished honorees this year,” Bruce Slovin, Chairman of the YIVO Board, notes. “It will be a poignant opportunity to celebrate friends like Saul Kagan, honor the remarkable Sedlis family, and remember our late friend Eta Wrobel. This is what we do best: honoring the past, celebrating the present, and looking forward to a brighter future. Our 2009 honorees are all exemplary, dedicated to helping Jews everywhere, supporting Israel, and making the world a better place. We are glad to have this opportunity to salute these good friends of YIVO.”

The YIVO Institute for Jewish Research was founded in Vilna (Wilno, Poland; now Vilnius, Lithuania) in 1925 by key European intellectuals, including Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud, to record and study the history, language, literature, and culture of the Jews of Eastern Europe. In 1940 YIVO moved its headquarters to New York City. YIVO is a global resource center for Eastern European Jewish Studies; Yiddish language, literature, and folklore; Ashkenazic history and culture; and the American Jewish immigrant experience. The YIVO Library currently holds more than 385,000 books and periodicals in twelve major languages. The YIVO Archives hold over 23 million documents, photographs, recordings, posters, films, videotapes, and items of ephemera, as well as thousands of handwritten, eyewitness accounts by Holocaust survivors and displaced persons and the world’s most extensive Yiddish music and theater collections. YIVO offers public programs, symposia, exhibitions, scholarly publications and research fellowships.