On December 6, Mitchell Braff, executive director of the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation (JPEF), was in town to make a presentation to Jefferson County Public School teachers and to members of the community at the home of Pam Vitaz. The purpose of the Jewish Partisan Educational Foundation is to educate people about the heroic activities and efforts of Jewish partisans as they rebelled against the Nazi regime during World War II.
Braff said that he was raised with a typical Jewish education, and yet when he finally heard about the Jewish partisans, he was amazed that he had never heard their story before and was determined to do something about it.
The stories of the Jewish partisans was first told in the 1967 book, They Fought Back, by Yuri Sul, which dispelled many of the myths that Jews were not involved with the resistance movements. As the years have passed, their story is being told more and more often, including in a 2008 feature film, Defiance, which told the story of the Bielski Brothers, who fought against the Nazis and managed to rescue more than 1,200 Jews in Belarus.
JPEF provides educational materials through its website, www.jewishpartisans.org, and Braff believes that they have already reached hundreds of thousands of students. He hopes to increase that number dramatically through visits with teachers like this one in Louisville.
The website includes a collection of pictures, films, biographies, and testimonials, including clips of the aforementioned Defiance.