HOLOCAUST REMEMBRANCE DAY
May 2nd is Holocaust Remembrance Day, also known as Yom HaShoah. This week many people throughout Westchester, the United States, and the rest of the world are commemorating the genocide that took place during World War II in which six million European Jews—approximately two-thirds of the Jewish population of Europe—were exterminated.
For members of WJCS’ Holocaust Survivors Group, Child Survivors Group, and Second Generation Group the memories and ripple effects of the Holocaust are present every day. The loss of relatives and friends, the trauma of starvation, degradation, and abuse, the horrific memories that are sparked by an increasing number of anti-Semitic hate crimes in the U.S and Europe, loneliness and fears about aging, and the secondary trauma experienced by children of survivors are some of the many issues Holocaust survivors and their children and grandchildren address in WJCS support groups.
“There is a need to be with others who have been directly impacted by this tragedy,” says WJCS Holocaust support group facilitator Halina Rosenkranz. “The Holocaust looms deeply in the hearts and minds of the survivors and their descendants. They come together to share the weight of the trauma by memorializing the victims, recounting their experiences, and celebrating their survival and existing families. As survivors and the Second Generation sit around the conference table sharing stories and light refreshments, their bond is evident and their resilience undeniable.”
All of the Holocaust survivors in WJCS groups have amazing stories. One of them, Chaim Grossman, spent time this week sharing his story at the Air Mobility Command Museum at the Dover Airforce Base in Delaware. Below is a photo of Chaim today and one of him taken inside Buchenwald Barrack #56 on April 16, 1945, five days after the Buchenwald camp was liberated by the Sixth Armored Division of the U.S. Third Army. The photo, published by the New York Times on May 6, 1945, shows Nobel Peace Prize winner and famous author Elie Wiesel and Chaim Grossman. The caption for the photo was “Crowded Bunks in the Prison Camp at Buchenwald.” Only one of Chaim’s five siblings survived the Holocaust.
Resilience is a popular buzz word today, as there is increased recognition of how key resilience is to overcoming trauma. At WJCS, we see the resilience of Holocaust survivors every day. We help fortify their connections and sense of community by bringing Holocaust survivors together to socialize and to celebrate holidays.
Through the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, WJCS offers funding to survivors to provide financial help with home aides and cleaning so they can maintain independence in their homes. Below is a photo of WJCS Coordinator of Holocaust Services Debbie Schrag explaining compensation benefits that are available to survivors. For information about the compensation program for Holocaust survivors, please contact Debbie Schrag at (914) 761-0600 ext. 232.