12th Tikkun Olam Award to Frank Harris
5/27/14 UPDATE – Norwalk (Connecticut) Central Kitchen renamed in honor of Frank A. Harris – Click HERE to learn more about Frank’s latest honor.
You are a very inspiring person whose presence in the world makes it a better place for all. We well remember Bill’s Uncle Harry Weilheimer’s deep respect for you after attending your Blue Card award ceremony in 2005. He was struck by your amazing generosity of spirit, kindness to the Jewish community and strength of purpose and we are in complete agreement with his impression.
Nürnberg-Fürth Survivors Group and Blue Card, Inc. *
In 1977, at the instigation of Lee Daniel-Fichtelberger, a longtime friend from Fürth and former classmate, Frank began contacting those Jewish citizens of Fürth and Nürnberg who had survived the Holocaust. Starting with two individuals known to him, he recruited from one and all names and addresses of other former family, friends and classmates. So the numbers began to grow. The first reunion titled “Grand Reunion” took place at Grossinger’s in July, 1978, attended by better than 200 people from around the world. To Frank, of all eight [Ed. Note: There have now been nine reunions] reunions today, the first was the most emotional one, meeting after 30-40 years for the first time again.
The success of the first reunion encouraged him to publish a yearly “Nürnberg – Fürth Newsletter” since 1977, realizing the importance of including the follow up generations into the project, in spite of advice by some, that the younger generations are not sufficiently interested in the history of their families. This assumption has been proven wrong by Frank and his Second Generation Committee, who was involved in the seven [now eight] follow-up reunions and the publication of the newsletter. From 60 – 80 in 1977, today the number of newsletter recipients exceeds 1200 of five generations on all five continents. With the cooperation of all generations the people from Nürnberg and Fürth have succeeded like no other group from a German city in reuniting Jewish families from around the world. But in all his activities related to the common history of his “his people”, Frank draws a clear-cut line between their traditions and bonds and the land of their origin, in his own words: “I do not believe that our roots still rest in Germany. Those, who were not killed were driven out – scattered around the globe. Personally I can never return to my birth country with the excuse to let bygones be bygones. Surely young Germans cannot be made responsible for the crimes committed by their parents and grandparents. But as long as I am alive – so are Germans of my generation responsible for the crimes of the Nazi regime.”
Besides his continuing activities with the “Nürnberg-Fürth Survivors Group,” – editing the annual newsletter with participation of the second and third generation and the reunions at regular three-year intervals – Frank also is serving in various capacities for Blue Card Inc., a charitable organization for needy Holocaust survivors, for over 40 years now. His achievements had been acknowledged on November 2, 2005, in a celebration which took place during Blue Card’s annual benefit concert at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York City.
*Excerpted from Biography of Frank A. Harris, Fürth posted by RIJO Research
Frank A. Harris was born in December, 1922 and grew up in the small Bavarian town of Fuerth, West Germany. He attended the Juedische Realschule along with Henry Kissinger, his classmate and friend.
As a refugee from Nazi oppression he escaped to Holland and England, arriving in the United States in 1940 with his parents and sister. His father, a concentration camp survivor, died two years later and Frank became the head of the family in 1942 at the tender age of 19.
He served in the Armed Forces from 1943 — 45, returning to his former hometown of Fuerth as a member of the victorious U.S. Army.
His professional background took from a cook at a midtown New York hotel to a Garde-Manger at the Waldorf Astoria, to chef at the Navy Officer’s Club in Bethesda Maryland. Throughout these years he continued his education at night, attending college courses in hotel and food management, nutrition, etc. He was appointed Cafeteria Manager of Sperry Gyroscope in Long Island in 1963.
In 1967 he was called upon to head the Food Services Department of the Norwalk Public Schools in Connecticut. He gained early recognition as a leader in school food service. He proposed and succeeded in 1973 in building the first Central Kitchen in the State of Connecticut and the northeast United States.
C. S. F. S. A — Frank became increasingly active in the Connecticut School Food Service Association. He served as chairman of the following committees: Nominating, Scholarship, Constitution and By-Laws, Directors and Supervisors, Public Relations, Convention, President- Elect and President. However, his greatest success was in the area of legislation, serving as Legislative Chairman for a total of fifteen years.
His active participation on a state level gained him great recognition throughout the country as a leader and proponent and of Child Nutrition Programs. He has attended ten A.S.F.S.A. Convention’s and twenty Legislative Conferences along with industry seminars, regional conferences, etc.
His Legislative Reports following each Conference are informative and shared throughout Connecticut by Food Service Directors, superintendence, mayors, etc. He has found wide recognition with his billboard exhibits, promoting Child Nutrition Programs, Truck- naming contests with student participation. Special Menus, wide publicity in the American School Food Service Journal, Institution and Food Management magazines, etc. He also received a special award by Market Forge and is listed in Who’s Who Business Officials and International Who’s Who.
Frank is a member of ASBO, CASBO.. He serves as President, Vice President and member of Boards of Directors with numerous charitable organizations.
Frank initiated Grandparents Day in Norwalk in 1977 at one school with 65 participants. By 1987 Grandparents Day had become a state-wide Day of recognition for all grandparents with Proclamations by the Governor of Connecticut and the mayor of his city. Norwalk’s participation has grown to better than 3,000 by 1977.
In 1990 Frank was presented with the Thomas P. O’Hearn award, the highest national legislative prize awarded yearly by A.S.F.S.A. to the one person that has made outstanding contributions to legislation at the state and national levels.
In recognition of all his accomplishments, he was made an Honorary Citizen of Norwalk in 1991, and was named Northeast Director of the Year in 1998. The United States flag was flown in Frank’s honor over the U.S. Capitol on February 21, 2002.
A universal Free Lunch Program throughout the U.S. is Frank’s ultimate goal. He is acknowledged by his peers as the profession’s foremost advocate for Universal Feeding.
As a first step, Frank was instrumental in working with Congressman Christopher Shays to introduce in 2004 “The School Nutrition Enhancement Act,” which calls for the elimination of their Reduced-price category in the National School Lunch Program and School Breakfast Program, qualifying more students to participate nationwide in these programs.
While Frank is qualified for a well-deserved retirement, effective February 28, 2006, he is determined to stay active in SNACT until he realizes his dream of feeding every child in every school throughout the United States.
CLICK HERE for our story in the Nürnberg-Fürth 2nd, 3rd, 4th and 5th Generation Newsletter 2010-2011