Feb 6, 2017

Survivors and Students Observe International Holocaust Remembrance Day with Plaque Dedication at Federation

With poignant tears, wistful smiles and powerful words, about 150 local Holocaust survivors, their loved ones and students from Donna Klein Jewish Academy (DKJA) gathered with profound respect on January 27, 2017, for a vital purpose. Together, in the Entin Holocaust Pavilion at the Jewish Federation of South Palm Beach County, they observed International Holocaust Remembrance Day with a program, “Remember to Remember.”

Officers of Child Survivors/Hidden Children of the Holocaust of Palm Beach County prepare for the candle lighting ceremony

The tone was set with a rendition of “Eli Eli,” sung by Eva Demsky, a junior at Claire and Emanuel G. Rosenblatt High School at DKJA, and a memorial candle lighting by officers of Child Survivors/Hidden Children of the Holocaust of Palm Beach County. The program dedicated the new Plaques of Remembrance recently mounted in the Pavilion, that feature photos of local survivors.

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“Today is the 11th anniversary of the United Nations General Assembly Resolution that designates January 27, the anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, as an annual International Day of Commemoration in Memory of the Victims of the Holocaust” said Jack Rosenbaum, March of the Living Southern Region Director, who emceed the program. He also noted that, in the audience, Joe Eckstein was commemorating the 72nd anniversary of his own Auschwitz liberation.

“I am honored and humbled to stand before you all to celebrate the beautiful faces on these plaques dedicated to life and memory,” said Heni Galel, a child survivor and chair of the event. Galel thanked the March of the Living Southern Region, DKJA and the Federation for making possible the plaques as well as the day’s event.

Heni Galel introduces the Plaques of Remembrance in the Holocaust Pavilion at the Federation

“Placed right above the lists of students who have participated in the March of the Living to keep the memories of the Shoah alive, these new plaques form the connection between the past and our young people who will take them into the future,” said Rabbi Josh Broide in his invocation. Broide, Director of the Deborah and Larry D. Silver Center for Jewish Engagement at the Federation, lauded the survivors for taking action on their knowledge, and urged others to follow their example. “They keep doing more and more, because whatever they do is never enough,” he said.

Zelda Fuksman, a survivor and Executive Vice President of the Hidden Children/Child Survivors group, shared on behalf of the group: “We survived the Shoah, but we don’t know HOW or WHY we survived. Somehow we were meant to live, even though our childhood was stolen from us, and we were never given the opportunity to BE children. But, we are here…. And as a group and as an organization we have created a meaningful presence in our community. We shine. We support Shoah education. We speak about our lives so that others can benefit from us. We give hope. We encourage strength. We celebrate LIFE. These “Plaques of Remembrance” are to life, to being alive and to continuing to sustain LIFE. They are our testament and our legacy to future generations.”

“I stand in awe of all survivors who lost more than I can ever imagine,” said Rosenbaum. “The inspiration of each of you stepping up and sharing with our local students on the March of the Living as well as at our day and congregational schools, as well as with non-Jewish students and adults is everlasting. Your infinite courage and perseverance are a shining example to the dignity of humanity, and your influence will remain with us in perpetuity. From the recesses of my heart, thank you, one and all.”

In closing, Rosette Adler Goldstein, a child survivor and Secretary of the Hidden Children/Child Survivors group shared her powerful poem, “We Are the Children,” ending with:

“Remember our words, and remember to continue to share our story. You can guard evil, hatred and prejudice from happening again! You must work to face your future without fear. May our legacy be your guiding light. Ha havah With love”

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