Approximately 70 Holocaust survivors enjoyed a summer celebration on Wednesday July 13 featuring lunch, live music, socializing, and a special address by State Senator Shelley Mayer on July 13, 2022, at Young Israel of White Plains. The event was hosted by Westchester Jewish Community Services, in partnership with UJA-Federation of New York. The joyous and meaningful event was a tribute to the hope, strength, and resilience of the survivors and the courage and determination with which they build constructive lives and families after experiencing the horrors of the Holocaust.
Allison Danzig, Coordinator of Holocaust Services at WJCS, welcomed everyone to the event and shared how honored she is to know the survivors, have them share their past experiences with her, and trust her to be a “memory keeper of their stories.” (Click here to hear Allison’s welcome speech.)
New York State Senator Shelley B. Mayer told the survivors how inspired she is by them and of her commitment to ensure that Holocaust education is a mandated part of New York State public school curriculum. Rabbi Michael Goldman, Director of the Spiritual Healing Center at WJCS, led the guests in saying Kaddish for loved ones who were lost in the Holocaust as well as a prayer of thanksgiving for reaching this day. The festivities included joyous music, played by fiddler Ted Kessler, a second generation Holocaust survivor, beautiful singing by Cantor Daniel Mendelson from Congregation Kol Ami,
a delicious lunch catered by Seasons, and words of warmth and passion by Halina Rosenkranz, who leads WJCS support groups for Holocaust survivors and members of the Second Generation.
We are so grateful to UJA-Federation of New York and the Claims Conference for partnering with us on this wonderful event. As WJCS CEO Seth Diamond said, “All of us in the county are tremendously inspired by all you have lived through, all you have taught us, and what you have done for all of our communities. The life you have lived and what you bore witness to inspires us to remain resilient and strong in the face of life’s challenges. You are a gift to all of us.”
The event was a huge success. Survivors, many of them accompanied by aides or family members, were thrilled to be together, especially because many have felt so isolated since the pandemic began. Here’s what one attendee wrote:
“Everything at today’s luncheon was just perfect. The food was delicious. The chance for all of the survivors to get out and interact with each other was priceless. I can’t thank you enough for putting it all together. Bravo! My uncle has been raving all day long about how thankful he is for all the support and help that WJCS offers.”