HOUSTON, TX (Nov. 5, 2012) – While the day was all about the generosity and philanthropy of the Harry Mach Family, Holocaust survivor Ruth Steinfeld brought the crowd both to tears and to its feet with her tribute to upstanders like the Machs at this year’s Guardian of the Human Spirit Luncheon.
Honored as Guardians of the Human Spirit, from left, were Butch and Carmen Mach, Cora Sue and Harry Mach, and Joella
and Steven Mach. (Photo by Kim Coffman and Associates)
The Mach Family – Harry and Cora Sue Mach, Butch and Carmen Mach and Steven and Joella Mach – were honored on Monday, Nov. 5, by Holocaust Museum Houston in recognition of their generations of philanthropy and history of service to enhance the lives of others. The family received the award at the Museum’s annual luncheon at the Hilton Americas-Houston. Almost 700 people were on hand for the event, which raised $300,000 to help the Museum teach the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.
Among the crowd were Kelli and Martin Fein; George and Sallie Alcorn; Dr. Milton and Laurie Boniuk; former Museum chair Walter Hecht and wife Punkin; Dean Gladden; Marianne Ivany; Michael and Carol Goldberg; Leisa Holland-Nelson; Isabel David; Ellie Francisco; Diane Gendel; Mo and Christina Ibrahim; Bobby and Phoebe Tudor; Barry Mandel; and David and Kelly Rose.
Among the many dignitaries seen at the event, which always draws many of Houston’s powerhouse leaders, were Houston Mayor Annise Parker; Houston City Council members Ellen Cohen and Steve Costello; Harris County District Attorney Pat Lykos; Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan; Ambassador Meir Shlomo, consul general of Israel; Geert Visser, honorary consul of the Netherlands; Maya Kadosh, deputy consul general of Israel; Arthur Schechter, former U.S. ambassador to the Bahamas; Anne Clutterbuck, former Houston City Council member; Peter Berkowitz, chair of the Texas Holocaust and Genocide Commission; and Fred Zeidman, former chairman of the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Council.
The Museum established the Guardian of the Human Spirit award in 1997 as a platform for acknowledging dedicated Houstonians who have worked to enhance the lives of others and to better humankind.
Chairing this year’s event were Jeffrey and Elizabeth Early and Carolyn and Michael Mann.
While the luncheon was all about the Mach Family and their years of service to a variety of causes across Houston, Holocaust survivor Steinfeld left few dry eyes in the house.
“Yes, my story is one of good people who did the right thing, I survived because of the goodness of people, despite all the inhumanities that occurred and the paths they could have taken,” Steinfeld told the audience.
Steinfeld, who grew up in Germany, was just five years old when her family was taken by the Nazis. Her parents were killed in Auschwitz after giving Ruth and her sister to a Jewish philanthropic organization to save them. Eventually, she was moved to a small farm owned by a poor French Catholic family. To stay alive, she posed with her sister as Catholics. After the war, they made it to Houston with the help of Jewish organizations here.
“I eventually went back to Germany, to step on the same ground where my family had lived, and then to France, to find that poor French family that had so bravely taken us in,” she told the crowd. “Mr. and Mrs. Chapeau had passed away long before, but I found their daughter, Paulette, after much searching. We recognized each other immediately, and I asked her the question I had wondered about all those years. I asked her, “How was it, Paulette, that your parents were brave enough to give a home to two little Jewish girls knowing the consequences? Her answer was very simple. She said, ‘Wouldn’t you?’ ”
Steinfeld then challenged the crowd, “So today, I stand here on behalf of all our survivors to thank our honorees and all of the other upstanders in our own community. But I also stand here to ask you, “Wouldn’t YOU?” If you could help us teach just one more child about the impact of hate, wouldn’t you? If you could help one more child learn not to be apathetic about the world around them, wouldn’t you? If you could change the hate in just one more heart, wouldn’t you?”
The crowd gave Steinfeld a standing ovation that didn’t end until she returned to the stage to acknowledge their accolades. Those in attendance accepted Steinfeld’s challenge and signed pledge cards committing another $32,000 to the event’s total to help bring school children to the Museum to learn about the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.
Also getting standing ovations were all six members of the Mach Family, who event co-chair Jeffrey Early said have left an “indelible mark” on Houston. “Working together – quite literally and toward their own causes – they have changed our community,” Early said.
The Mach Family, who have been longtime supporters of Holocaust Museum Houston, have also
championed other such causes as Family Services of Greater Houston, Alley Theatre, Baylor College of Medicine, Texas Children’s Hospital, Houston Symphony, Houston Ballet, Houston Grand Opera, Incarnate Word Academy, University of St. Thomas, Hobby Center for the Performing Arts and the Houston-Gulf Coast-South Texas Chapter of the Crohn’s and Colitis Foundation, among others.
Harry Mach is president and chief executive officer of Mach Industrial Group, and wife Cora Sue serves as vice president. Son Butch Mach is vice president of production and a current vice chair of the Museum. Son Steven serves as vice president of finance. Butch’s wife, Carmen, serves in the company’s tax compliance unit. Steve’s wife, Joella, is a full-time mother and an active community volunteer.
Previous recipients of the award have included Mayor Parker; Mike Feinberg and Dave Levin of KIPP; Barbara and Gerald Hines; Marc J. Shapiro; Lester and Sue Smith; Sandra Weiner and Martin Fein; Naomi Warren and Fred Zeidman; Joan and Stanford Alexander; Ed Wulfe and the H-E-B grocery chain; Jack Blanton and The Houston Chronicle; the Rev. William A. Lawson and Julie and Ben Rogers; Linda P. Lay and Siegi Izakson; and Ron Stone.
Holocaust Museum Houston is dedicated to educating people about the Holocaust, remembering the 6 million Jews and other innocent victims and honoring the survivors' legacy. Using the lessons of the Holocaust and other genocides, the Museum teaches the dangers of hatred, prejudice and apathy.
Holocaust Museum Houston is free and open to the public and is located in Houston’s Museum District at 5401 Caroline St., Houston, TX 77004.
For more information about the Museum, call 713-942-8000 or visit www.hmh.org.