Hope for Humanity celebration, Oct. 25
By Deb Silverthorn
The Dallas Holocaust and Human Rights Museum (DHHRM) will celebrate Hope for Humanity, honoring Holocaust survivors and saluting Larry Schoenbrun, beginning at 5:30 p.m. on Wednesday, Oct. 25, at the Hyatt Regency Dallas.
“This is a night we’re thrilled each year to honor our past and to be grateful for those survivors who are with us. So many of them have been of the greatest contributors to our community and they truly are our blessing. In honoring Larry, a most dignified man who lives and leads by example, our hope for humanity is defined,” said Mary Pat Higgins, the museum’s president and CEO.
She added that Schoenbrun has been key leader of the museum for more than a quarter century. “He has been part of the museum’s backbone, playing an integral role in the design, build and success of where we are today. He is beloved and respected, greatly,” Higgins said.
Schoenbrun is the son of Elsie and Mano, of blessed memory. He is the brother of Shirley (the late Herman) Morris, Greta (Howard) Herskowitz and the late Ronny (Anne) and the late Monty.
His father came to the United States after serving in World War I in his homeland of Austria-Hungary but returned in 1930, after which he married his former commanding officer’s daughter. The couple returned to run the family’s “New York Store,” in Seminole, Oklahoma; then they moved to Tyler, Texas, where Schoenbrun was born.
A graduate of Tyler High School, where he played the tenor sax — “terribly,” he says — Schoenbrun was a member of the local B’nai B’rith Youth Organization chapter. He speaks of the friendships made during regional conventions, with teens from Dallas and Fort Worth, that withstood the years; they remain close now.
In Tyler, his family belonged to Congregation Beth El, with only a few hundred Jewish families in the community. His future bride was the former Celia Roosth (her family belonged to Ahavath Achim Synagogue). She was two years his junior; she was the sister of Nathan and cousin of Warren, who were both in Schoenbrun’s Boy Scout troop. Schoenbrun laughs at the memory that he, Nathan and Warren, known then as the “Skunk Patrol,” worked “hard” at earning fewer merit badges than anyone else.
Schoenbrun began his college experience at New York University but returned to Texas when his father passed away during his freshman year. He earned undergraduate and juris doctor degrees from The University of Texas at Austin; there, he was a member of Phi Sigma Delta fraternity, through which many of today’s close relationships began.
After his first year of law school, the Schoenbruns married on June 30, 1963. In the last 60 years the family has grown to include their children Benjamin (Inga) and their son Elec; Michael (Laren) and their children Sophie and Leo; and Kathryn (Dr. Seth) Kaplan and their sons Daniel and Jacob.
Schoenbrun had a number of family members who perished in the Holocaust. He is a lifetime director of the museum; his involvement began when the museum was housed in the basement of the Jewish Community Center. He is particularly interested in the work done educating the next generation. In 2023, the museum expects to impact nearly 120,000 students, from kindergarten through twelfth grade.
The museum recently announced the Upstander Partnership, an agreement with Dallas Independent School District and other local districts, offering Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills–aligned civics and citizenship skills curricula for grades K-12. The partnership gives school districts lessons and resources to better inform students’ academic careers and positively impact their futures beyond the classroom.
Higgins said, “At the museum, we highlight upstanders throughout history. We believe every student who participates in this program will be equipped to become an upstander, one who sees something wrong, works to make it right and strives to combat injustice, inequality or unfairness.
“We’re excited to offer lessons about the importance of upstander behavior over the course of a child’s academic career. I think this will have a dramatic positive effect on the youth in our community,” she said.
The partnership, already linked with Coppell ISD, includes access to the Upstander Education Database. This is an online learning portal that includes interactive lessons, classroom resources and teaching strategies; field trips to the museum; virtual or at-school museum educator presentations; professional development for teachers; and strategic planning and coordination with museum educators.
Chairing the 2023 Hope for Humanity event areLynn and Gil Friedlander and Linda and Ken Wimberly, themselves dedicated to honoring Schoenbrun. The gentlemen both credit Schoenbrun with professional support throughout the years. They admire his steadfast grace and respect and believe he deserves the museum’s Hope for Humanity award.
“We’ve ridden bikes together, worked together and sat across the table from one another. I have nothing but complete respect for Larry,” said Friedlander, a friend and colleague for more than 50 years. “He exemplifies the hope we have for humanity and the work of the museum. We’ve already met our goal and we’ll continue to raise funds because we have so much work to do.”
Friedlander added, “In the current atmosphere, with so much antisemitism and racism, the museum’s mission is critical. We must educate and eliminate the divisiveness and teaching the next generation is an important step in that direction.”
Ken is a longtime member of the museum’s board of directors and now its secretary. The Wimberlys pay honor to Linda’s mother, Inge Brooks, who was a child born in Berlin and hidden during the war, forever grateful her experience was not as dire as for so many others.
“I’ve known Larry since we began working together in 1989. He remains a pillar of the firm and of the community. He’s as genuine and humble as a man can be and a professional that everyone enjoys working with and learning from,” said Ken.
“We appreciate and respect the importance of the museum and in recent years its expanding its mission to include human rights of all,” said Linda, who serves on the board of Temple Emanu-El, to which her family belongs. “We’re honored to chair the event to pay tribute to those who perished, to those who came through the Holocaust as well as our dear friend.”
Schoenbrun has served many organizations in the Jewish community and beyond. He was the first president of CHAI: Community Homes for Adults, Inc. He served as board chair of the Dallas Jewish Community Foundation; the Jewish Federation of Greater Dallas; and the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) Texoma, where he was honored as the ADL’s first Jurisprudence Award recipient. The award has since been named in his honor.
He’s also a member of the board and former chairman of the Texas Hillel Endowment Foundation at The University of Texas at Austin and previously served on the boards of the Aaron Family JCC and Temple Shalom, where the Schoenbruns have been longtime members.
A member of the American and Dallas Bar associations, former chair and still member of the executive committee of the Texas Business Law Foundation, Schoenbrun also served the Dallas Citizens Council, Dallas Theater Center and United Way of Metropolitan Dallas.
While the firm he’s worked at for nearly six decades has evolved, now named Foley & Lardner LLP, Schoenbrun’s allegiance to supporting the realm of corporate concern has never wavered and he remains in service to several clients on his docket for nearly 60 years.
For almost a decade, after an introduction by attorney Paul Zoltan, an honorary committee member with his wife, Jennifer, of the Hope for Humanity event, Schoenbrun has provided pro bono legal services for those seeking asylum, primarily from Central America.
“We are devoted to helping immigrants and supporting those who need our services. As I have wound down the mergers and acquisitions work of many years, this arena is very different and in so many ways extremely fulfilling,” said Schoenbrun.
To register for, or sponsor, the Museum’s Hope for Humanity event, visit tinyurl.com/23-dhhrm-hope-for-humanity.