Browsing Through Birke's Film Screening

Nathan Birke at Birkes Dept Store
Nathan Birke in Birke's Department Store

Courtesy photo

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News Release Date: April 20, 2017

Contact: Phil Lupsiewicz, 978-275-1705

Lowell, MA- The Tsongas Industrial History Center (TIHC), a partnership between the UMass Lowell Graduate School of Education and Lowell National Historical Park (LNHP), presents “Browsing Through Birke’s: A Documentary Film about a Family, a Clothing Business, and the Legacies of Genocide,” on a Mass Humanities Open Discussion project for members of the Lowell community. The free program is on Tuesday, April 25, 2017 6:30-8:30 PM at Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center.
The event consists of a showing of the one-hour documentary film “Browsing Through Birke’s,” followed by a panel discussion led by University of Massachusetts Lowell history professor Robert Forrant, at LNHP’s Visitor Center. Panelists include:
• Szifra Birke, whose parents ran Birke’s Department Store from 1947 to 1997.
• Noel Twagiramungu, visiting assistant professor, UMass Lowell Political Science Department. Noel is a survivor of the horrors of the 1994 genocide in Rwanda.
•Sonith Peou, director of the Lowell Community Health Center (LCHC) Metta Health Center. Sonith came to the U.S. as a refugee from Cambodia.
•Rafal Thaher, business student, Middlesex Community College. Rafal came to the U.S. five years ago from Iraq.
The documentary profiles a family whose business was well-known for its eccentricity. The Birkes’ personal history was less well-known: proprietors Nathan and Sally Birke were Jewish Holocaust survivors. At a time when rhetoric about immigrants and refugees makes daily news, the film shows that whatever compels people to flee their homeland can have powerful and long-lasting effects, but human resilience is equally or more powerful.

The Tsongas Industrial History Center is a collaborative project of the University of Massachusetts Lowell Graduate School of Education and the National Park Service at Lowell National Historical Park. The center encourages the teaching of industrial history in a hands-on way through on- and off-site educational programs for more than 50,000 students and teachers annually and through teacher professional development programs.
The program will take place on Tuesday, April 25, 2017, 6:30-8:30 PM at the Lowell National Historical Park Visitor Center located at 246 Market Street, Lowell, and free parking will be available . The event is free and all are welcome. Please call 978-970-5080 for more information or visit:  This program is funded in part by Mass Humanities, which receives support from the Massachusetts Cultural Council and is an affiliate of the National Endowment for the Humanities.

Last updated: April 20, 2017

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