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Yom HaShoah event will honor survivors, Mexican diplomat

Gilberto Bosques
Gilberto Bosques

The 2014 community Yom HaShoah Commemoration, “Diplomatic Acts of Conscience and Courage,” will honor Tucson’s Holocaust survivors and Mexican diplomat Gilberto Bosques. The event will take place on Sunday, April 27 at 2 p.m. at Temple Emanu-El, and will begin with a procession and candlelighting ceremony by local Holocaust survivors.

Lillian Liberman, the Mexican-Jewish director of the documentary “Visa to Paradise,” will deliver the keynote, telling the little-known story of Bosques’ rescue of thousands of Jews. “I met him at his 100th birthday party in 1992,” Liberman told the AJP. “I was amazed that I didn’t know his story. There was never a book written about him or anything like that.” Liberman had been invited to the party by friends of her parents, who exhorted her to “come and bring a camera.”

“I met his daughter at the party. She told me his story,” says Liberman. Jews were fleeing Spanish dictator Francisco Franco’s regime, escaping to France after he took power in 1939. “They were not very well received in France,” she says. Bosques was the Mexican consul general in Marseilles.

When the Nazis occupied Paris, Spanish refugees moved on to the French southern port city. Bosques “rented two estates and hid Jews there. He provided the proper documentation to members of the resistance” to protect Spanish and French Jews, says Liberman. “He rented ships to take refugees first to Casa­blanca, continuing to the Mexican port of Veracruz.”

On learning the diplomat’s story, says Liberman, “I said, ‘He deserves a great documentary.’ I was making educational videos for teens” at the time. At first, she had to search for funding because no one had heard of Bosques. In 2010, she completed the film, which has been shown around the world.

The commemoration, sponsored by the Jewish Federation of Southern Arizona’s Jewish Community Relations Council, is a collaboration with the Consulate of Mexico. “In Mexico the last few years we’ve been learning more about our diplomats such as Bosques,” says Ricardo Pineda Albarron, consul of Mexico in Tucson. “It was a happy coincidence to have a movie made about Bosques by a Mexican Jew living in Mexico City. Now, together with the Federation, we’re promoting human rights by honoring this great humanitarian.”

The Temple Emanu-El Men’s Club will host a reception following the commemoration. For more information, contact Bryan Davis at [email protected] or Jane Scott at 577-9393, ext. 114.