This piece was written prior to the heinous attack on our brothers and sisters in New Zealand. Sadly, this piece is even more poignant today given that violence against others continues to devastate our world.
On a rainy Tuesday night in March, more than 500 community members gathered at Chabad in Poway for a conversation with Holocaust survivor, Eva Schloss. Eva, who also happens to be the step-sister of Anne Frank, regaled the packed auditorium with stories of her earliest years as a young Jew from Vienna and her family’s escape to Belgium and later to Amsterdam.
Despite the Netherlands offering a relatively welcoming and hospitable atmosphere for Jews during the earlier days of WWII, the inevitable happened when the Nazi’s overthrew the Dutch government and sent thousands of Dutch Jews to Germany. Facing life and death, Eva’s family went into hiding for about two years before her family was discovered by the Nazis and deported to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi Death Camp in Poland. Eva shared more stories about her experiences in the infamous Death Camp where more than 1 million Jews were slaughtered in a period of 3 years. If you haven’t seen it, there is a terrific write-up of Eva's story and in the San Diego Jewish Tribune just last week.
The Jewish Federation of San Diego was honored to be a sponsor of this important event.
Federation has been an ambassador for vulnerable Survivors internationally for many years. Did you know that your support of Federation provides life-saving food, medicine, and emotional and physical care for thousands of Survivors in the Former Soviet Union?
Because of the Federation system, organizations like Jewish Family Service have received significant funding to support Survivors. Jewish Family Service and Seacrest Village have been the flag bearers for decades in caring for vulnerable local Survivors and ensuring that their basic needs are met. Today, our local Survivor population hovers around 500, and many are outliving their savings and have dynamic needs that the community has not been faced with before.
Just 3 months ago, we announced that Federation would be working with other Jewish organizations to ensure that San Diego’s remaining Survivor population lives the rest of their days in dignity. We are in the process of launching the San Diego Holocaust Survivor Coalition, which is open to organizations and individuals that wish to collectively assume responsibility for caring for this special part of our community. I have said before and I will repeat here; It is our sincerest belief that caring for Survivors is not, cannot, nor should not be the responsibility of any one institution. As such, we are proud to be working closely with Jewish Family Service, Jewish Community Foundation and a host of other partners to collectively raise funds and mobilize the entire community to address the dynamic needs of San Diego’s Holocaust survivors.
As part of Federation’s work to honor Survivors, and those that were murdered during the Holocaust, we hope you will join us at our annual Yom HaShoah Celebration on Sunday, April 28, 1:30-3:30. This year, our community has been given a very rare honor of hosting a special ceremony to officially recognize a family for “Designation of the Righteous” for hiding and rescuing Jews during the war. The ceremony’s featured speaker, Heather Maio, will share innovations in Holocaust education and her role in creating “116 Cameras.” As it happens, Eva Schloss is featured in “116 Cameras”, which is an innovative attempt to preserve survivors’ stories in holographic form for future generations. Please join us as we raise our voices and say Never Again, Never Forget!