“The Pianist of Willesden Lane” and For the Sake of the Children: Letters Between Otto Frank and Nathan Straus, Jr.


Tuesday, March 13, 2012 ~ 7:30PM

Wilshire Boulevard Temple, Irmas Campus 
11661 W. Olympic Boulevard
Los Angeles CA 90064


Poster for ‘The Pianist of Willedsen Lane

Mona Golabek, celebrated American pianist and author, will offer a brief preview of the upcoming world premiere of her one woman show, “The Pianist of Willesden Lane.” This is the true story of pianist Lisa Jura, who traveled to London through the Kindertransport to escape Nazi persecution on the eve of WWII. Set in Vienna in 1938 and London during the Blitzkrieg, “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” tells the story of this young, Jewish pianist who is dreaming about her concert debut at the storied Musikverein concert hall. But with the issuing of new ordinances under the Nazi regime, everything for Lisa changes, except for her love of music and the pursuit of her dream. Featuring some of the world’s most beloved piano music played live, “The Pianist of Willesden Lane” is performer Mona Golabek’s true family story, chronicling hope, survival and how through our darkest times, music has the power to help us survive. Ms. Golabek will perform a few selections by Debussy, Chopin, and Scriabin and give us a sneak preview of the play.  JGSLA members will also receive a discount code for tickets to the first week of the play which runs from April 17 – May 17 at the Audrey Skirball Kenis Theatre at the Geffen Playhouse in Westwood.


Mona Golabek

Ms. Golabek is the founder and president of the non-profit organization Hold On To Your Music. She is an author, recording artist, radio host and internationally acclaimed concert pianist. Ms. Golabek was taught by her mother, Lisa Jura, who, along with Lisa’s mother Malka, is the subject of Ms. Golabek’s book,The Children Of Willesden Lane. The work of Ms. Golabek and her sister, the late concert pianist Renee Golabek-Kaye, has been inspired by the words their grandmother uttered to her daughter at the Vienna train station as Lisa boarded the Kindertransport for safety in London at the outset of World War II. “Hold on to your music,” Malka told her, “It will be your best friend.”  A Grammy nominee, Ms. Golabek has been the recipient of numerous awards, including the Avery Fisher Prize and the People’s Award of the International Chopin Competition. She has been the subject of several PBS television documentaries, including More Than the Music, which won the grand prize in the 1985 Houston Film Festival, and Concerto for Mona, featuring Ms. Golabek and conductor Zubin Mehta. She has appeared in concert at the Hollywood Bowl, the Kennedy Center, Royal Festival Hall and with major orchestras and conductors worldwide.  Mona is the proud aunt to her late sister’s four children, who are keeping alive the legacy passed down by their great-grandmother, their grandmother and their mother: Michele, Sarah and Rachel, who are pianists; and their brother Jonathan, a violinist.

This short presentation will be followed by our main program:
For the Sake of the Children:
Letters Between Otto Frank and Nathan Straus, Jr.


The Frank family

Joan Adler, Executive Director of the Straus Historical Society, Inc.and author of the new book “For the Sake of the Children” will share with us the fascinating story of the 2007 discovery of letters written in 1941 between Otto Frank and Nathan Straus, Jr. revealing that Otto Frank recognized the danger his family faced and was anxious to leave Amsterdam.  Nathan Straus Jr., was Otto’s roommate at Heidelberg University and remained his lifelong friend.  In 1941, when these letters were written, Nathan Straus Jr. was the director of the United States Housing Administration in President Franklin Delano Roosevelt’s administration. These newly discovered letters expand our knowledge about that relationship and give us greater insight into this tragic era in history.
Photo of Joan Adler


Joan Adler

Joan Adler is the historian for the Straus family, the family that owned R. H. Macy’s for almost 100 years. It is also the family of Isidor and Ida Straus who died in the Titanic disaster. Joan began working with the family in 1990 when she was hired to help get their personal papers out of the Macy’s archives after a bitter leveraged buy-out. Once that project was completed, she had more than 100,000 pieces of paper no one has seen, some for close to 200 years. She organized them, had the Old German translated into English, and began writing about their contents. Each revelation brought with it a new area to research. Although not formally trained as an historian, genealogist, archivist, author or publisher, Joan now wears all of these hats. She is thrilled to share her stories about this amazing family through the semiannual newsletters and the books she has authored and in her speaking engagements.


JGSLA members are free.  Guests $5.00 – Refreshments will be served.  The JGSLA Traveling Library will be available starting at 7:00PM.