Young Israel of Forest Hills commemorates Holocaust

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They have seen evil.

Forest Hills residents spoke of a father being beaten to death by the Nazis, of surviving in Auschwitz, and of living in places permeated by death at a Holocaust Remembrance Day event at Young Israel of Forest Hills Monday evening.

“In 1941, the Germans said a group of men should go to the work camps for just several months, so my father said he would go,” Forest Hills resident Edith Horowitz said in a film shown to the more than 300 Queens resident at Young Israel’s 46th annual Holocaust Remembrance Day. “We got a telegram my father was sent to Auschwitz, where he was beaten to death.”

Holocaust survivors, Jewish leaders, Borough President Helen Marshall, and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown attended the event that was first held outside of Israel at Young Israel of Forest Hills. The Israeli Knesset, the legislative branch of the Israeli government, proclaimed Holocaust Remembrance Day the official period of mourning for the more than 6 million Jews murdered in the Holocaust.

“Writing and reading about the Holocaust only has a limited value of conveying the full impact of the Holocaust experience,” said Young Israel of Forest Hills President Sholom Simanowitz. “It needs to be made a visceral part of our collective memory.”

Simanowitz and others who spoke Monday night stressed the importance of holding events like Holocaust Remembrance Day, which is commemorated worldwide and inaugurated in Israel in 1951.

The day was honored around the world, from Forest Hills to Israel to Auschwitz in Poland.

Survivors from the Forest Hills and Rego Park area spoke of their experiences during the Holocaust in a video shown Monday night in Forest Hills. Grandchildren and other family of survivors also spoke in the video about visiting the concentration camps where there relatives had lived.

“I’m a teacher by training, so I know how important it is to teach the children about the Holocaust from survivors,” Marshall told the hundreds of Queens residents Monday night. “We must never forget the Holocaust, the darkest day in our history.”

Forest Hills resident Hela Telzak, who was born in Czechoslovakia in 1944, spoke of being deported to Auschwitz, the largest of the Nazi concentration camps, where 1 million to 3 million Jews were reported to have been murdered, and Dachau, a concentration camp where more than 25,000 Jews were reported to have been killed.

“One good thing I got from the camp was I met my husband of 52 years,” Telzak said in the film. “He was also an inmate working in the kitchen.”

The documentary was endowed by the children and grandchildren of Judy and Ruby Gruenbaum, Holocaust survivors who rebuilt their lives in the Forest Hills community.

“Unfortunat­ely so many people are eager to make the claim it didn’t really happen,” Rabbi Yehuda Oppenheimer said of the Holocaust. “Tonight, we are here to gather to remember what happened. Despite the plans of Hitler, we did go on and there was a rebuilding of the Jewish people.”

Reach reporter Anna Gustafson at 718−229−0300 ext.174.

Posted 6:35 pm, October 10, 2011
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