HOLOCAUST SURVIVOR'S CHANUKAH LUNCHEON 2013 by Elyse Warren (scroll down for Photos)
The Annual Survivor's Luncheon took place at Temple Sinai, Sarasota on Tuesday December 3rd 2013.
On Tuesday December 3rd, 2013 the 17th Annual Survivor's Chanukah Tea was held at Temple Sinai. The theme of this year's Tea was L'dor V'dor, generation to generation and was hosted by Ms. Betty Silberman. This theme was brilliantly expressed through Mrs. Helen Glaser's testimony about her experience as a hidden child and her current involvement in the community with Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee. Mrs. Glaser expressed in her message the importance of fostering the Jewish community for future generations. This message was emphasized with a special tribute by Ms. Sierra VanSuch and a March of the Living Message by myself. Ms. VanSuch discussed her participation in the Remember Us: The Holocaust Bnai Mitzvah Project, The Righteous Conversations Project at Temple Beth Shalom and how it inspired her to bring Holocaust awareness to her school.
I had the privilege of being asked to speak at this luncheon about my experiences on the March of the Living and how it impacted my current involvement in Holocaust and genocide awareness and education. The March of the Living, which is generously sponsored by Dr. and Mrs. Anne Stein, is the stronghold of the Jewish Federation's programs organized by Orna Nissan for High School juniors and seniors to immerse themselves in Holocaust remembrance by traveling to Poland and Israel.
The next speaker Mr. David Grace provided an inspiring message about being a child of survivors, establishing a Generations After group, and the vital role generations after play in educating the youth.
The final speaker was Dr. Helen Fagin whom delivered the survivor's message to the audience. Dr. Fagin focused on how integral it is to understand that the only people who can truly bear witness to what actually happened in the Holocaust is those who survived the atrocities and give testimony to what occurred in the Concentration and Extermination camps. She discussed how movies such as, The Book Thief , are only a fictional depiction of what the author thought might have occurred based on the history they knew. Dr. Fagin stressed how important it is that the youth take up this duty to learn the testimony of survivors and preserve the knowledge for future generations. Unfortunately, Dr. Fagin announced that this would be her last speech and that she wants to focus on being with her family. Her vital role as an educator serves as testament to her dedication to providing next generations with the tools to preserve the memory of the Holocaust and inspire the community to do the same. In the banquet room, I could see how her message has touched the survivors, scholars, and wonderful members of the community who commit to "... the responsibility and obligation to vouchsafe integrity, justice, and reverence for life and human dignity for all men, women, and children of the world." - discussed in her Our Legacy statement.
The program culminated with a lighting of the Menorah by Rabbi Geoffrey Huntting and musical entertainment by Freylekh. A very special thank you to those who sponsored the event including the Jewish Federation of Sarasota-Manatee, Barbara and Martin Arch, the Gulf Coast JFCS and JFCS of Sarasota Manatee, and The Conference On Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. These organizations and the members of the community who participate in Holocaust awareness embody the theme of the event, L'dor V'dor. It is with them and future generations that we may carry the torch of knowledge on and make sure that the light that preserves the memory of those who can no longer give testimony never dies out. With this, we can one day fulfill the legacy of "Never Again" and create a community of tolerance and remembrance.
To learn more about Holocaust Education programs please contact Orna Nissan, Director, Holocaust Education & Israel Programs at 941-371-4546.
Pictures courtesy of Roger Bunard and Joel Servetz.