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Film on Jews, Salvadorans in Great Neck

It was the early 1940s and the Nazis were spreading anti-Semitic ideology across Europe when a wealthy Romanian Jew and a Salvadoran diplomatic official in Switzerland discussed a way out.

As a result of their plans, the Salvadoran government would issue more than 25,000 citizenship certificates, allowing Jews to pose as Salvadorans and escape the Holocaust.

That’s the story told in “Glass House,” a 2006 documentary film that will frame a discussion of relations between both communities Sunday in Great Neck. Ina Soep Polak, a survivor who received Salvadoran citizenship and lives in Westchester County, will speak about her experience.

The event is presented through the collaboration of several Jewish organizations and the consul general of El Salvador.

Event organizers said they want to strengthen ties between both communities. The number of Long Islanders of Jewish ancestry is estimated at about 350,000, and there are more than 66,000 Salvadorans in the region.

Many Salvadorans also came here fleeing war.

“We see them as our new neighbors and partners,” said David Newman, executive director of the Jewish Community Relations Council of Long Island. “This is one step of a larger process of developing a lasting relationship.”

Sunday’s gathering will begin at 11:30 a.m. at Temple Israel of Great Neck (108 Old Mill Rd., Great Neck). Admission is free, but organizers ask participants to register at 516-677-1867.

“It’s a part of history we should know,” said Alise Kreditor, chair of Temple Israel of Great Neck’s cultural and performing arts committee. “People know about ‘Schindler’s List,’ but that wasn’t all. All of a sudden we find out that 20,000 to 30,000 Jews were saved by this tiny country and it makes you feel grateful.”

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