Infotrue Educational Experiences by Rick Landman

Gad Beck Comes to CBST and Pride March

Gad Beck with Rick Landman and Yolanda Potasinski on the CBST Pride float

Photo of Gad Beck and Rick Landman (in his pink wig) and Yolanda on the CBST Gay Pride Float in 1997 in NYC's Pride Parade. Gad Beck was also the Keynote Speaker that year at CBST's Pride Shabbat Service held at NYU's Loeb Student Center.

That was the first time that CBST moved the Pride Shabbat Service out from our shul to handle the larger crowd of people who wanted to hear Gad. He was so happy not only be our guest speaker, but to be on the CBST float that Sunday for the Pride Parade. The text below is from the second time that Gad came to CBST to discuss his book.

Congregation Beth Simchat Torah
Rabbi Sharon Kleinbaum Yolanda Potasinski, President

October 29, 1999 Friday Night ONEG with GAD BECK, gay Jewish Holocaust Survivor at 10 pm.

Location: Church of the Holy Apostles at Ninth Avenue and 28th Street in Chelsea, Manhattan
Gad Beck

Gad Beck, a gay, Jewish Holocaust Survivor, will be speaking at CBST's Friday night service's ONEG. Mr. Beck was the guest speaker at CBST's Pride Shabbat service in 1997, and proudly rode on the CBST float during the Gay Pride Parade that year. Gad Beck has had his book translated into English and it is now called An Underground Life: Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin (University of Wisconsin Press).

A German Jew, Gad Beck managed to evade the Nazis, living in Berlin during World War II. That Beck was a homosexual Jew during the Holocaust makes his survival all the more remarkable. Born Gerhard Beck in a Christian-Jewish household, he first experienced the growing power and influence of National Socialism only as an uncertain threat. As Jews began to be forced out of German social, political, and economic life, the young Gerhard embraced his Jewish heritage, joined Zionist youth groups, and took the Hebrew name Gad.

Then the Nazis came for Manfred Lewin, Beck's first love, and for the Lewin family. Gad's love for Manfred gave him the courage to don a three-sizes-too-large Hitler Youth uniform, march into the assembly camp where the Lewins were being held, and demand- and obtain, to his astonishment- the release of his lover. But Manfred would not leave without his family, and so went back into the camp. The Lewins did not survive.

Still in his teens, Beck was soon an important contact in Berlin for the Swiss-based Zionist organization Hechalutz and led a resistance group, Chug Chaluzi, that aided Jews with food, housing, and escape plans. Defying caution, Beck and the other members of his Zionist youth group met in the streets of Berlin, wandering and singing, under the eye of the Nazis. Coming of age in a city under constant bombardment, carrying on resistance work and a series of romantic gay relationships despite the constant risk of arrest by the Gestapo, Beck revealed a tenacity and irrepressible spirit that is his real legacy. Unlike many stories of the Holocaust, Beck's is not that of a victim, but of a man who lived semi-openly and actively, never losing his love of life despite the threat of persecution.

Gad's Book

Gad Beck is the author of An Underground Life: Memoirs of a Gay Jew in Nazi Berlin, one of the new fall titles in the Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiographies series published by the University of Wisconsin Press. In An Underground Life, Beck relates his experiences during World War II. Originally published in Germany under the title, Und Gad Ging Zu David, Beck's memoir is one of the first biographies of a homosexual Jewish Holocaust Survivor. After living in Israel for many years after World War II, Beck eventually returned to Berlin, where he was the director of the Jewish Adult Education Center until his retirement. He still lives in Berlin, where he is active as a public speaker.

270 pages, 23 b/w photos and 2 maps. ISBN 0-299-16500-0 Cl. $24.95

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