By Keri Guten Cohen
Featured photo courtesy Sylvia Nelson
Dr. Charles Silow, director of the Program for Holocaust Survivors and Families, a service of Jewish Senior Life, and the Children of Holocaust Survivors Association in Michigan (C.H.A.I.M.), was honored for his 25 years of service with the Americanism Medal from the Daughters of the American Revolution.
In a ceremony Sunday, March 24, at the Holocaust Memorial Center in Farmington Hills, Silow received this award, given by the DAR to naturalized citizens for their outstanding contributions to the nation. He is also being recognized for his Holocaust educational work “Portraits of Honor: Our Michigan Holocaust Survivors,” a permanent exhibit at the Holocaust Memorial Center (portraitsofhonor.org).
“On a personal level, I’m thrilled,” Silow said. “On a more general level, it gives us a greater opportunity to talk about the contributions of Holocaust survivors and their children to American society, and to raise further awareness about the Holocaust itself.”
Silow was nominated by Sylvia Nelson, a DAR member and longtime C.H.A.I.M. board member and volunteer with the Program for Holocaust Survivors and Families and its Café Europa. She started the process three or four months ago and said requirements included historical documentation, which contained Silow’s parents’ naturalization papers.
“There were questions back and forth,” she said. “They use archivists and geneaologists. It’s a very difficult process and the medal is hard to win. It’s a big honor. I’m incredibly excited.”
While doing research, they uncovered the name of the ship Silow and his parents came over on as well as an original copy of the ship’s manifest with his parents’ names on it, which she presented to Silow at the medal ceremony. Previously, Nelson also was instrumental in successfully nominating local survivor Erna Gorman for the Americanism Medal.
“The DAR is not what I used to think it was; it’s not as insular,” Silow said. “They are doing a lot of outreach and good for American society by reaching out to naturalized citizens. I feel proud to represent the survivor community.”