NEVER FORGET – HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR LUNCHEON 2011 (Photo Gallery below Courtesy: Roger Burnard)
By Stephanie Konicov
Never forget ...
is a mantra that I have grown up with. These are words that I have heard along with the stories of my grandparents’ survival from the holocaust.
is a mantra that I have heard together with the stories of my mother, who was a hidden child.
I knew it was ingrained, a part of my very essence and yet, until the afternoon of the Fifteenth Annual Holocaust Survivors’ Luncheon, I didn’t realize how deeply.
On that day, December 13th, 2011, the mantra became I REMEMBER, for me.
As the program began, I looked around the room at 112 people who were either survivors or descendants of survivors.
One hundred twelve people, each with their own story of pain and triumph. One hundred twelve people with stories of friends, families and loved ones who were no longer with them, but whom they carried in their eyes, their souls and their hearts.
Shining as a testament to the strength and endurance of each of the people there, the descendants ranged from the 2nd all the way to the 4th generation.
When the program began with the youth of the Ramat Gan Israeli Dance Theatre I looked around the room to see a sea of people with joy in their eyes. Each and every one was mesmerized by the beauty and talent of these students and soldiers who were sharing their immense talent with us. The music was uplifting; the joy in their dance obvious. I imagined many of the audience remembering a faraway time when they too shared such dances with their friends.
Susie Konicov, my mother, sitting next to me, leaned over to say, “I used to do some of those dances after each Friday night Shabbat service; it was part of our Oneg .”
The joy and memories seemed to me to be a tribute to life after the war. I saw in their eyes proof that every person in the room that day had gone on to live life, to grow, to move on, and TO REMEMBER.
We had the honor to listen to a few of Paul Molnar’s stories as he was honored for his ongoing support of holocaust education in the greater Sarasota area. Paul, I REMEMBER and will always remember the story you shared about the tall, strong tree with eighteen branches. Those 18 branches represented each member of your family as you rode in your first cattle car. You had us envision seventeen of those branches being cut off the tree, as you were the only branch to survive. You further had us envision the one remaining branch growing and thriving until there were once again eighteen branches. These eighteen branches, representing members of your family - today; a family once again of eighteen. Paul, I REMEMBER and always will.
It was an amazing afternoon, a room full of triumph, renewal, growth and continuity. It was a room full of life and joy, 2n,d , 3rd, and 4th generation descendants, all thankful for their predecessors’ strength, love and even luck. I would like to tell each and every one – I REMEMBER and always will.
Many thanks to Jewish Federation of Sarasota Manatee and Martin and Barbara Arch for sponsoring the Holocaust Survivors luncheon.
To learn about Holocaust Education programs please contact Orna Nissan at 941-371-4546