Education/Lecture

Picturing Moral Courage: The Rescuers

3GNY invites you to join us for Picturing Moral Courage: The Rescuers.Thursday, February 6, 2014 7:00 - 9:00 pm Jewish Enrichment Center: 38 W 13th Street, btwn 5th & 6th aves

Rescuers is an exhibition of photographs and extraordinary stories from the Holocaust, and the genocides that occurred in Bosnia-Herzegovina, Rwanda, and Cambodia. These are remarkable stories about ordinary heroes who resisted overwhelming tides of prejudice and violence to risk their lives saving members from enemy groups.

In partnership with PROOF: Media for Social Justice, this special event will include a panel discussion with PROOF Executive Director Leora Kahn and experts on topics from Human Rights law to the psychology of moral courage.

Wine and cheese reception to follow.

Admission is Free, but registration is required

For any questions about the event, please email: julia@birthrightisraelalumni.com

Psychological Trauma and the Transmission of Trauma

January 27, 2011 JCC in Manhattan

We thank all who joined us for this important screening and discussion with Amira Kohn-Trattner.

We watched The Summer of Aviyah, based on the autobiography of Gila Almagor. The film is set in the young Jewish State shortly after the end of the Shoah. The movie chronicles one summer in the life of a ten year old girl, Aviyah, who is visiting her mother during summer break from boarding school.

Aviyah is desperately trying to reconnect with her and learn about her family's tragic past, only to witness her mother's progressive descent into mental illness.

Following the film, we discussed the survivors after the war - the struggle to regain a semblance of normality in the face of utter destruction, the search for those lost and fantasies of their sudden return that alternate with the longing for closure, the wish to know and yet not to know the past, and the search for continuity when the fabric of meaning and memory is ripped asunder on both an individual and collective basis.

We also thank our co-sponsors: the JCC in Manhattan and The German Consulate General in New York.

About the speaker:

Amira Kohn-Trattner, L.C.S.W., is an Israeli-born psychotherapist/psychoanalyst in private practice in New York. Amira works with individuals and couples and has extensive experience with survivors, 2nd and 3rd generation.

She has been a consultant to the German government in restitution cases as an advocate to survivors and volunteered at international conferences for the US Holocaust Museum and the Shoah Foundation.

3GNY Spring Shabbat Dinner

Friday, April 30, 201092YTribeca

MashaLeon

Thanks to all who joined us for Shabbat as we welcomed guest speaker Masha Leon - a Holocaust survivor and columnist for The Forward.

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Masha Leon was born in Warsaw, Poland, where she survived the bombing of the city, hunger and disease. She fled Warsaw with her mother and they survived a Nazi firing squad and being shot at by the Russians on the way to Soviet-occupied Poland.

Her father was a journalist and political activist in pre-war Poland and was arrested in 1940 by the NKVD in Vilna (where he shared a prison cell with Menachem Begin). Ms. Leon describes her survival as a series of "miracles," culminating in a visa issued by Japanese consul Chiune Sugihara, whose 2,139 Visas saved 6,000 Jews.

She is a graduate of CUNY(City College-Hunter-Queens College) with a degree in Yiddish Studies, majors in English and French, and has been honored by Workmen's Circle, Hadassah and the Israel Cancer Research Fund for her media accomplishments. Her articles have appeared in magazines such as Working Woman, Guideposts, and Ladies Home Journal.

Masha writes a weekly column for The Forward, called "On-The-Go," which appears in both the paper and the online version. The column covers New York's and America's Jewish communities' social, political and organizational events as well as New York's benefit arenas including theatre, dance, film, music, etc.

Masha and her husband Joseph (who died in August 2008 after a long illness) have three daughters and five grandchildren.

Kickoff Cocktail Reception for 3GNY Education Initiative

January 27, 2010 49 Grove

We thank all who took part in launching “WEDU” (We Educate) – our new initiative to empower grandchildren of survivors to bring the stories and lessons of the Holocaust to school classrooms.

We offer a special thanks to Sara Greenberg, a grandchild of survivors, who screened her family documentary "B-2247: A Granddaughter's Understanding"

On the 65th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, we were happy to see such an amazing turnout at this celebration of life.

David Gewirtzman and Jacqueline Murekatete

March 18, 2009

untitled2David Gewirtzman was born in Losice, a small town in Poland in 1928. He was one of 16 out of 8,000 Jews to survive the Holocaust from this shtetl. 50 members of his extended family were murdered in Treblinka. Jacqueline Murekatete was born in a small village in southern Rwanda in 1984. She was not yet ten when her immediate family was murdered, as well as most of her extended family, in the 1994 Rwandan genocide. Jacqueline was granted political asylum in the U.S. in 1995, placed in public school and quickly learned English. One day David came to her school to speak. Listening to him, she was one of many kids who ended up weeping as he described his experiences. But she also saw a connection. She sent David a letter, which read in part: "At one time I, too, like you, had a feeling of guilt for being alive. 'Why was I left?' I asked myself. I never really got an answer to that, but now I'm thankful that I was left because maybe I can make a difference in this world if I try, and maybe I can do my part in making sure that no other human being goes through the same experience as I did." David and Jacqueline have since teamed up to speak about their experiences, with the hope of preventing such acts from happening again.

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We thank Mr. Gewirtzman and Ms. Murekatete for telling us their stories. We also thank the Center for Jewish History for hosting us.

Hearing From Mrs. Gene Meisner, Survivor

January 27, 2008

We thank Mrs. Gene Meisner, grandmother of 3GNY member Justin Waiser, for sharing with us her inspiring and courageous story of survival.

Gene Meisner is an 87 year old Holocaust survivor born in Kalish, Poland. She is a survivor of the Lodz Ghetto, as well as several different work camps, including the notorious women's concentration camp Ravensbruck. During the war, she was separated from her husband Sam Meisner and miraculously found him afterwards.

Mr. and Mrs. Meisner immigrated to the United States shortly after the war. They are the parents of a son and daughter: Michael Meisner, the first child born to Holocaust survivors in the United States, and Paulette Waiser. Gene Meisner is currently a Vice President of Investments at Smith Barney.

Thanks to the JCC for hosting us.

Speaking with Survivors

April 26, 2006 3GNY's discussion, "Defining the Legacy," followed Makor's "Asking the Survivors" program. Makor's program was a panel discussion led by two journalists (Liel Liebowitz with the Jewish Week and Gabrielle Birkner with the New York Sun) who interviewed two survivors who have recently written their memoirs: Aharon Golub, author of the memoir "Kaddishel: A Life Reborn"; Fanya Gottesfeld Heller, author of "Love in a World of Sorrow: A Teenage Girl's Holocaust Memoirs."

After the program ended, we moved to Makor's reading room to discuss the program we had just seen, as well as a range of other issues dealing with the legacy.

Video Testimony

August 24, 2005  Thanks to all those who made it to Makor Wednesday, August 24. For those unable to attend, we watched video testimony of Serena Farkas. Serena is a survivor of Auschwitz and the grandmother of member Gabe Farkas.

In the four-part video, produced by the Shoah Foundation, we learned of Serena Farkas's experiences. Of note:

  • Born in 1922, she is originally from Tirgo Mares in the Transylvania region of present-day Romania.
  • In 1940, the Hungarian army moved her and her family to a ghetto in the forests of Romania.
  • In 1944, they were sent to Lodz, Poland where she worked making munitions.
  • Soon after, she and her family were deported to Auschwitz. With her were her parents, four siblings, aunt, uncle, grandmother and grandfather.
  • She was the only one of her family to survive when Auschwitz was liberated by the Russians in '45. She soon returned to Romania.
  • In 1961, Serena and Jacob (Gabe's grandfather) left Romania for America. Gabe's father was 14 at the time.

Watching the film prompted some questions:

  1. Should there be criteria for the label "survivor"? We reached a consensus that the term survivor does and should include anyone who was in Nazi-occupied Europe (or nations allied with Hitler) and lived through it regardless of whether they saw a camp, or a ghetto or a Nazi.
  2. What and when did she know of her family's fate? How did our grandparents cope with not knowing the fate of family members for so long?
  3. Why did the Nazis tattoo numbers on inmates they were sending to the gas chambers? Serena told how the Nazis would mark a "K" on those destined for the crematorium, to ensure that they "wouldn't get lost" along the way. Serena then showed her tattoo. She had an "A" for "arbeit" (work).

Towards the end, we discussed what's coming next for our group:

3GNY’s September event will be a little different. We will be a part of “Jewzapalooza” on Sunday, September 25th. We have reserved a booth and will have members there to meet, greet and answer questions.

Israel's Survivor Community

June 15, 2005 We met with Dubby Arbell, Director-General of the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims in Israel.

Meeting Summary:

  • We went around the room and briefly exchanged family stories. Specifically, Dubby wanted to know where our grandparents/parents were from. Latvia, Poland, Romania and Russia were some of our answers. Dubby told us how his father, a Danish Jew, had been saved from deportation by being secretly ferried, under cover of darkness, over the straits to safe and neutral Sweden.
  • Dubby talked about Israel's survivor community: The not-so-warm response they initially received from the natives; The events that led to the gradual change in the way Israel views its survivor citizens: The Eichmann trial, the Yom Kippur War and the more recent John Demanjuk trial. He also mentioned that Israel's current Chief Rabbi, Israel Meir Lau, is a survivor and has recently put out his autobiography.
  • Dubby described his organization and the challenges it faces: The several channels of aid they offer survivors, from home nursing care, to an individual grants program to the "Flower for a Survivor" program, which provides survivors visits from teenagers, an enriching experience for both. He discussed the problem of solitude in particular. He noted that at least 20% of survivors in Israel have not rebuilt families since the war and survivors with families are, nevertheless, in need of special services. We also discussed the reasons why some survivors in Israel live below the poverty line, and how that's being addressed.

In closing, Dubby stressed the importance of being close with our grandparents. We should take advantage of the fact that many survivors are more open with our generation and would be more than willing to meet with us and share their stories. Dubby urged that we all keep in touch with him and one day soon we'll all meet together again in Israel.