Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Jewish History on the South American Slopes

This blog comes from one of our Gallery Educators, Joy Rosenberg, who just took a fascinating ski trip to Chile where she encountered some very interesting Jewish history in unlikely places. This is just one of her stories.

Last month 15 members of my ski club flew 11 hrs to Santiago, Chile and then drove 1 hour up into the Andes mountains to the Valle Nevado ski resort, one of South America’s premier skiing areas. Our summer is their winter. We were thrilled to leave behind a sweltering heat wave and trade it in for cloudless blue skies and abundant sun shining down on magnificent mountains buried in tons of pristine white snow.

In Valle Nevado my ski instructor was Alberto Stern Britzmann whose father, Eduardo Stern Honig, was the visionary who built the Valle Nevado ski resort 22 years ago. For 2 hours, while skiing, I was enthralled by this young man’s amazing story, beginning with his grandparents’ (both maternal and paternal) escape from Nazi Germany in early 1939. Alberto’s parents were avid skiers and both studied architecture in the Universidad de Chile. It was his father’s dream to build a ski resort there. Eduardo went to France to study mountain architecture where he met up with a French group who were developing the Les Arcs ski resort in the French Alps. Unfortunately, he was diagnosed with cancer. After receiving treatment in New York, he was told he should return to his beloved Chile to die peacefully. He did return but upon being home, he rallied. Before he died in 2000, Eduardo was able to successfully fulfill his dream of building Valle Nevado.

This image is of a memorial to Eduardo Stern Honig.

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