The Legacy of the Holocaust

Last weekend I attended my first World Federation Conference of Child Holocaust Survivors and their Descendants.

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Waiting at the Sacramento Airport with friends

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Flying into Burbank Airport

Eleven members of the 2 Gen group from Sacramento participated.

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Photographer at the conference is documenting survivors and descendents for a project

About 600 attendees sat down to meals at the Marriott.

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So many enjoying a meal together. Plenty to eat, plenty to talk about!

The almost 600 attendees participated in many workshops, some panel discussions, dancing, and plenty of good food.

We gather for dinner with friends.

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You can’t be serious! (Kidding.  I didn’t actually listen to conversation)

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It’s all good.

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A 4 day information packed conference with many workshop choices for each generation

The second generation made up the largest group. There is an age difference between the survivors who were over 16 at the end of the war, and those who were under 16 years old at the end of 1945. The personal stories varied, the impact of the Holocaust differed, and the perceptions proved dissimilar.

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Second Generation group broke up into smaller groups after the introductions.

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Candle lighting ceremony

Sarah Moskovitz is honored for her work with child survivors

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Here my friend visits with Sarah

We listened to the lawyer who represented the family in the real life story of Woman in Gold.  

After food the tables are moved out of the way and it is time to dance. Everyone gets into the action.

On the last day after the closing ceremony we went to the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust. This is a small museum with a lot of information.

I connected with my cousin who I have not seen in at least 46 years. It was a very, very short visit, but at least there was at least a reconnection.

After the convention I tried to talk to my mother. She is feeling very alone right now. After 69 years together with my Dad she is alone. Recently I discovered a letter she wrote to her Uncle Lazar Kahan in Shanghai after the war. Unaware that he passed away right after the war ended the letter was given back to my mother probably by his wife, Shoshana. In the letter she described her terrible journey. Before the age of 19 my mother endured the arrest and murder by the Nazis of my grandfather, Israel Kahan, journalist and owner of Lodzer Nachrichten, moving into the Lodz Ghetto with her mother, and its liquidation in August 1944. My mother and Grandmother were transported to Auschwitz August 1944 where they were separated and my Grandmother was gassed. My mother was sent to work camps as slave labor and ended up in Bergen Belsen. The English liberated the camp in May 1945, but not before she endured death marches trying to stay one step ahead of the Allies.  Liberation, a brief stay in Sweden to recuperate, and a ship brought her to New York. War is over and everyone wants to move on. No psychological help is offered, no knowledge of PTSD. The letter she writes demonstrates that very real damage has been done. Alone, feeling guilty, seeing life without hourly fears, having no support system my mother poured out her feelings in this letter. A couple of months later my Dad enters her life, and she finds a quiet understanding. And then time to start living, start a family, and participate in the American dream.

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Alina and Arthur pose in May 2016, a couple of months before my Dad’s passing

Both my parents gave testimony in the Shoah project started by Steven Spielberg. This is my family legacy.

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Sacramento dedicates first Holocaust Library

On October 23, 2016 CVHEN (Central Valley Holocaust Educator’s Network)Library and Resource Center opened its doors. This is Liz Igra’s dream to provide a single place for Holocaust education.

I attended as a Second Generation member, a retired librarian, and the photographer for the event. I wanted to capture the day’s story as it unfolded. When I know that I am going to photograph an event I usually check for lighting and backgrounds. I can then decide what camera set up I need. This time my family needed me, and I didn’t have the time. I looked at some past events, and made my decision. I ended up using my Nikon dslr with a 18-200mm lens with a flash. This would allow for flexible composition.

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This event brought out many from throughout the Sacramento valley. The guest book is signed, and programs distributed.

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Friends Zelda and Diane

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In the last minute I decided to bring my Olympus OMD-5 mirrorless camera. I brought all my lenses, and ended up using my 75mm 1.8 lens. Great gear for use during the keynote speech. I had a seat up close, and I didn’t need a flash.

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Rabbi Reuven Taff of Mosaic Law

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Liz Igra, president of CVHEN

Keynote speaker Rabbi Michael Berenbaum spoke to the continuous need for educating everyone about the Holocaust and its implications for today.

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Second Gen member Muriel B.

 

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Liz Igra displays her warmth and charm with Rabbi Reuven Taff of Mosaic Law

With each photograph I tried to see a story. I rarely asked for someone to pose. This resulted in more than a few blurry pictures. Overall, I think I captured the participant’s emotion.

Such a spread for all the share. Plenty of food. Delicious kugel, bagels, and all kosher too.

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Zelda, a Second Generation member.

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I am proud to know Liz with her endless energy,

Group is invited to witness the affixing of the Mezuzah.

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Rabbi Taff provides explanation about the placement of the Mezuzah. For additonal information I have provided a link here.

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People who helped make this library possible is asked to step forward and help place the Mezuzah on the door post.

 

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Six Butterflys symbolize the Six Million.

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Susan S. and Tammy T. witness and celebrate

One thing that I need to think about when photographing an event is to carry a pad. I know that this is a group of people important for the CVHEN Library and Resource Center, but I don’t have this information.

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Henry Gorden provides an inservice on how to use the Library resources.

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This powerpoint provides a bit of humor to the task of moving 1,700 books from Liz’s personal library found in her home. It was a huge task for a part-time volunteer.

This brought me back to my days as the Rio Americano High School Librarian. I started working there in 1985. I remember typing and filing catalog cards. Keeping them up to date, changing the keywords to reflect changing social norms, teaching students how to make the most from the information. Then came computers. First to keep up with circulation records. Later to bring the collection into the digital age.

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This powerpoint shows a library card catalog moving to a computerized system.

The CVHEN Library catalog can be accessed by computer. CVHEN Library. It is user friendly, and the resources are extensive. Most books are available since circulation hasn’t been established yet.  If I am interested in obtaining the books for check-out, I can go to Sacramento Public Library right from my computer.  Having worked at the Sac Public Library I know that if the book is not in the collection it may be obtained through LINK services, or possibly as a digital e-version.

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Tammy T.another Second Gen learns how the collection is organized.

An English teacher at El Camino Fundamental High School teaches her students about the Holocaust. She explains how the resources in this library helps support this education.

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Someone in the audience asked, “Can I go back to high school?”

Six weeks ago my father Arthur (Anschel) Rubinstein died. At almost 98 years old he leaves this world with one less witness to the terrible tragedy of the Holocaust. Living in Krakow he shared experiences with Liz Igra’s uncle, a classmate in high school. Small world. Later he was interned in Krakow-Plaszow concentration camp, worked for Oskar Schindler and deported to Mauthausen-Gusen concentration camp. There my Dad was liberated by American troops.

In his passing, I asked that donations be made in his name to the CVHEN Library Resource Center. I want to thank those who honored my request. I am touched.

Now I can go and learn more about my parent’s story. My Second Generation group plans our next meeting at the library.

Remembering

Today in Yom Hashoah, the Holocaust Day of Rememberance.  I am the daughter of two Holocaust survivors. Both of my parents, are victims of Nazi persecution and ended up in concentration camps. My mother survived Auschwitz and Bergen Belsen and my father survived Mathausen. This is how my mother spent her teen years and my father his mid twenties. But if the saying is true that you never get over your high school years, I can’t imagine how one gets over their experience.

But they came to the United States, met each other, married, raised a family. Arriving with an empty paper suitcase, and a pack of memories they “seemed” to fit into the American way of life. As  first generation American I knew this was often difficult. My dad is now 96, and my mom is 89, but these past few years their earlier life is finding its way to the forefront. The details are now a bit fuzzy, and I’m glad that The Shoah Foundation recorded their testimonies many years ago. Now when I speak about this time they both spoke more freely, and less guarded. We all felt good, and so I will make more time to listen to their memories.

Dad and Mom in 2015

Dad and Mom in 2015

As history repeats this cycle of war and destruction I see the long term consequences on people, and the resilience and hard work needed to try and overcome the pain caused by war. So sad.