Henry Winkler Talks About Jewish Resilience at Charity Event: 'We Are Still Here, and We Are Still Giving Back' – Kveller
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Henry Winkler Talks About Jewish Resilience at Charity Event: ‘We Are Still Here, and We Are Still Giving Back’

Winkler and his daughter Zoe Winkler Reinis were honored by The Workers Circle for their philanthropic work.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA - AUGUST 27: (L-R) Zoe Winkler and Henry Winkler attends the TIAH 4th Annual Fundraiser at Private Residence on August 27, 2022 in Los Angeles, California.

via Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for This Is About Humanity

Henry Winkler paid a moving tribute to Jewish tradition and resilience last week, when he and his daughter Zoe Winkler Reinis were presented with The Workers Circle’s Generation to Generation Jewish Culture and Activism Award, honoring their legacies of philanthropic work. The Jewish secular social justice organization was founded in 1900 under the name Der Arbeter Ring, and honors a long tradition of Yiddish culture and activism.

At the event, CEO Ann Toback extolled Winkler and Winkler Reinis by telling the crowd in Yiddish that “together they have changed the world for the better many times over,” according to The Hollywood Reporter.

When accepting the award over video call, Winkler shared with the attendees that “aside from matzah, what I really love is that for 5,000 years, somehow society tried to eradicate Jews and the Jewish religion, and for 5,000 years, we are still here, and we are still giving back to the world in general. They say that you can take everything away from me, but you cannot take away what is in my mind. Jews have been dispossessed over the centuries, but they have always taken their tenacity, their knowledge and their tradition with them.”

Winkler himself is the son of German Jewish immigrants. In a 2018 episode of “Better Late Than Never,” he was confronted with his family’s Holocaust history and the story of his uncle, Helmut, while visiting Berlin. It’s a moment that he recently reflected on in an interview with The Times:

“I stood in front of the house where my father lived with his brothers, Helmut and Alfred. There’s a silver Stolpersteine, remembrance plaque, there, engraved with ‘Helmut Winkler’ who I never met. While everyone was escaping from Nazi Germany, Helmut decided to stay one more day for the tailor to finish making his white dinner jacket. That night they took him and he was sent to Auschwitz, where he died. When I looked down at this plaque I was overwhelmed and sobbed,” he recounted.

Winkler Reinis, who is founder of This Is About Humanity, an organization that helps shelter and care for families separated at the border of the U.S., shared how Jewish tradition and her Jewish parents instilled in her a desire to give back.

“What’s been instilled in me is that as a Jewish person, you care for every single person; your cause isn’t just about you, you take on other people’s causes, too,” she told the crowd at the private cocktail ceremony. “I grew up in a house where giving back was not an option. It was instilled in us, and I believe that that comes from our religion, but also just who we are as people.”

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