Dr. Selden K. Smith - Chairman Emeritus
Dr. Selden Smith has been a member of the Council since its creation in 1989, and served as its Chair for many years. He became interested in Holocaust education when he was approached to teach a course at Columbia College. His subsequent research and connections with survivors and liberators in South Carolina made him a committed advocate of the importance of training educators to study and recognize the early stages of genocide.
Since 1994, Dr. Smith has organized and team-taught a graduate credit workshop on Teaching the Holocaust to hundreds of educators throughout the state. He was instrumental in creating the Selden K. Smith Foundation for Holocaust Education, named in his honor, to expand the Council’s projects.
Dr. Smith feels very strongly, as espoused by historian Peter Hayes, that teachers must make genocide prevention a global priority. In the early 1930s, Europeans and Americans watched but did not intervene. Rwandan intervention came too late. Multinational intervention must come early.
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EILEEN CHEPENIK - CHAIRMAN
Eileen Chepenik, from Charleston, has served on the Council since 2001 and is the current Chair. She interviewed numerous Holocaust survivors and liberators for Steven Spielberg's Visual History of the Shoah Foundation, and produces a Holocaust education supplement annually for the Post and Courier.
She is an active volunteer in both the Jewish and non-Jewish communities and has served in a variety of leadership capacities. Professionally, she is the Executive Director of Trident Literacy Association, a nonprofit adult education program for people who do not have a high school credential, and nonspeakers of English.
Carl Evans - VICE CHAIR
Dr. Carl Evans has served on the Council since 1995. He is now retired from the Religious Studies department at the University of South Carolina where he taught 35 years.
During his entire professional career he has worked to promote understanding and cooperation among the religions in our state and region. His interest in Holocaust education began in the mid-1970s when he became involved in Jewish-Christian dialogue and helped establish the Christian-Jewish Congress of South Carolina. Learning the lessons of the Holocaust was a frequent topic of conversation in living room dialogue groups of C-JCSC.
In the late 1970s, he organized a conference on the Holocaust, partially funded by the South Carolina Humanities Council, which was held at the University of South Carolina. Since then he has worked in many community and statewide organizations that promote harmony and good will among different religious, racial, and ethnic groups.
Lilly Filler - SECRETARY
Dr. Lilly S Filler, an obstetrician/gynecologist, is a daughter of Holocaust Survivors Jadzia and Ben Stern. Born in Munich, Germany following WWII, she emigrated with her parents to the US in 1949.
In 2000, Dr. Filler chaired the “Holocaust Memorial” project to have the Memorial designed, erected, and dedicated in Memorial Park in Columbia, SC. Following this project she formed the Columbia Holocaust Education Commission and continues to be co-chair. Through this commission, the “Holocaust Remembered” exhibit and supplement were developed and continue to provide continuous accurate information to the midlands community.
She is a speaker about the Holocaust, throughout the year. She was appointed to the SC Council of the Holocaust in 2005 and is presently serving as Secretary. Dr. Filler resides in Columbia with her husband Bruce and is the mother of 3 children and grandmother of 5.
Margaret Walden - TREASURER
Margaret Walden has been a part of the South Carolina Council on the Holocaust since its inception in 1989; she has been chairman and now serves as treasurer. She has served on the board of the Association of Holocaust Organizations, an international association of organizations that teach about the Holocaust, and on the board of the Selden K. Smith Foundation since its creation. Previously she acted as Secretary and Treasurer of the Council of State Social Studies Specialists.
Margaret has been an educator for 43 years. She has held positions as a social studies teacher, an assistant principal, SC State Social Studies Consultant, school district administrator, SC Department of Education associate and is presently chairman of the school board of directors for the Richland Two Charter High School.
Leah Chase is a freelance journalist who has been to Israel and countries along the Mediterranean extensively. She often writes for the Charleston (SC) Post and Courier’s Commentary page and has been published by the Jewish Telegraphic Agency wire service, Hadassah Magazine and Jewish newspapers in Atlanta, Baltimore, Cleveland, Phoenix and New York.
Leah serves on the South Carolina Council on the Holocaust, and has done since since its beginning. She was named a “Woman Who Makes a Difference” by the Charleston chapter of Hadassah, was a founding member of the Charleston Foreign Affairs Forum, was named a High Profile community personality by the Charleston Post and Courier, and voted one of the city’s ten “Best Mannered Charlestonians.” She served as president of the Charleston Cancer Association, BSBI Sisterhood, the South Windermere Garden Club and the Charleston Hebrew Institute P-TA. She chaired the Jewish Community Relations Committee of the Charleston Jewish Federation.
Joe Engel is a survivor of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Death Camp. He was just 12 or 13 years old when the Nazis came to his home town of Zakrocyzm, Poland, and shot 150 young men in the town square. At Auschwitz, the number 84009 was tattooed on his arm.
The infamous Dr. Mengele selected Mr. Engel for slave labor instead of the gas chamber, and he was sent to bricklaying school. Mr. Engel was among some 66,000 prisoners who were forced on the Death March in the bitter cold of January, 1945, as the Nazis tried to hide their evil crimes from the approaching Red Army.
He escaped and joined the partisans in the forest until he was liberated. Mr. Engel came to Charleston in 1949 and ran a successful dry cleaning business for many years. He has dedicated his life to sharing his experience with tens of thousands of people, young and old, making sure the Holocaust is not forgotten.
Paul W. Garfinkel, a native Charlestonian, received his A.B. and J.D. from the University
of South Carolina in 1967 and 1970, respectively.
From 1970-1995 he practiced law and was an OSHA Judge from 1991-1995, including
being the State’s Chief OSHA Judge form 1992-1994. In 1995, he was elected Family Court
Judge and served until his retirement in September 2014.
Since then, he has been a Special
Counsel at the Charleston law firm of Young Clement Rivers, LLP.
He was a Trustee of the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges from
2003-2009, and served on various State Committees, focusing on children.
He is a member and
past president of Brith Sholom Beth Israel Congregation and was on the Board of Governors of
the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America. In 2005, he was awarded an honorary
doctorate (D.H.L) from MUSC.
Paul and his wife have five children and fourteen grandchildren.
Kevin Lewis, born in Asheville, NC, attended public elementary then private secondary school in Buffalo, NY. His higher ed. degrees are from Harvard (American History and Lit.), Cambridge, UK (Theology), and the Univ. of Chicago (Religion and Lit.)
He taught forty-two years as an interdisciplinary specialist in the Religious Studies Dept., Univ. of South Carolina, with semesters away as a Fulbrighter teaching American culture and lit. at the Jagiellonian Univ. in Krakow, Poland, then the Islamic University of Gaza. Married happily to Becky Wingard (Columbia College, 1964; USC PhD, 1998), step-father to Jake (b. 1966) and Helen (b. 1970, d. 2007).
He has profited professionally and personally from extended returns to Cambridge with Becky over the years as Visiting Fellows in Wolfson College. Published numerous reviews and articles in scholarly journals, a few poems, and a book-length study of the uniquely American usage of the term "lonesomeness" (Lonesome, 2009).
Emily Taylor has worked as an English teacher and currently as a Media Specialist at Swansea High School since graduating from college. She became passionate about the teaching of the Holocaust in 1996 through the Holocaust and Jewish Resistance Teachers' Program.
Since then she has taken numerous courses and institutes on the Holocaust, including Teaching about the Holocaust through the South Carolina Council on the Holocaust and Columbia College. She has worked with the South Carolina Council on the Holocaust Teacher Advisory Committee, since its inception in 1997.
Amy Vaz grew up in Spartanburg, but now resides in Greenville with her husband and three children. Amy only recently developed a deep interest in and passion for the Holocaust. She strongly values hearing from survivors, the last living witnesses to this dark chapter in history. They can teach us about the causes and implications of the Holocaust and its many applications to the current times during which we live.
With this inspiration, she conducted two programs in 2015 and 2016, respectively, hosting out-of-town Holocaust survivors, each of whom spoke at many community events across the Upstate. She is honored to be a new member of the board of the Council, and as such would like to use it as a means of furthering Holocaust education and commemoration in our State, particularly in the Upstate.
Dr. Jesse L. Scott
Dr. Jesse L. Scott, Professor of History at Newberry College, earned a B.A. and a M.A. degree in History from Clemson University and a Ph.D. from The University of South Carolina, where he specialized in Modern European Studies. In addition to teaching an advanced level course specifically about Nazi Germany and the Holocaust as well as a course on Genocide, Jesse has been actively involved in Holocaust studies throughout his career by participating in summer institutes about the Holocaust (e.g. NorthWestern University, Columbia College) and by regularly attending various Holocaust conferences around the country including, but not limited to, The. S. C. Council on the Holocaust Conference hosted annually at Columbia College. For his service, teaching, scholarship, and dedication to students, Dr. Scott has received over the years a number of awards recognizing his commitment to education including, for example, the 2008 S. C. Independent Colleges and Universities Excellence in Teaching Award.
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Minda Miller currently serves as chair of The Selden K. Smith Foundation for Holocaust Education. She is also on the Board of the Columbia Holocaust Education Commission.
She is involved in various volunteer activities in the community and is the program director for Tuesdays With Friends, a senior citizens’ monthly social.
Minda is a former teacher and is married to Dr. Henry Miller, whose parents, Cela and David, were the first Holocaust survivors to make Columbia their home in 1949. Her in-laws’ experiences are what has inspired and motivated Minda to promote Holocaust and tolerance education in our state.
Barbara Parker serves as an associate member of the SC Council on the Holocaust. Barbara began working with the Council in 1997 while employed at Columbia College.
She worked with Dr. Selden Smith in the Department of History and Political Science at that time and has continued working with the Council every year since then. She organizes the summer workshop for Holocaust studies held every year at Columbia College and works closely with the Teachers Advisory Council in conducting the fall workshop for teachers interested in Holocaust education.
In addition she does other administrative work with the Council..