Holocaust Survivors


One of the most inspiring events we organize at the JCC of Canarsie is our Annual Luncheon for Holocaust Survivors. It is so uplifting to see what these precious individuals have done with their lives, turning adversity and pain into positive actions. One can only be impressed to see how they have raised families, built institutions, created communities and made better lives for themselves.

Strength and Courage. A legacy of sisterhood continues after many decades.
Yesterday, we held our luncheon at Shang Chai Restaurant in Flatbush. What an
uplifting experience it was! I can only say I feel fortunate to be part of a community where we can persevere on the shoulders of giants from the previous generations.? The JCC of Canarsie is totally committed to bettering the lives of so many people from all walks of life. Our burdens are slightly lessened when we are inspired by such wonderful people as our dear Holocaust survivors.

Special thanks to Reeves Eisen, of Councilman Lew Fidler's office, who participated in our Holocaust survivor luncheon. We truly appreciate her making time from her busy schedule to express greetings on behalf of Councilman Fidler.

They came with canes and in wheelchairs - their best suits decorated with medals earned in the most horrific war of the 20th century. This was the war that changed the lives of an entire generation; its impact is felt even now, 65 years after the fighting has ended.

On a sunny Sunday morning, the JCC of Canarsie gathered together World War II veterans as well as those who spent their childhood years fleeing the cursed Nazis or who survived against all odds in ghettos and camps. The songs of their youth floated from the loudspeakers as teenaged volunteers distributed red carnations – a Russian symbol of victory and heroism. The festively set tables matched the mood of those assembled. The greetings and embraces were shared by many as they congratulated each other on yet another year of peace.
The program featured Binyomin Lerner, a 16 year old American-born singer and student at Yeshiva Torah Vodaas, who addressed the audience in perfect Russian. “It is a great honor for me to sing for you today,” said Binyomin. I am< privileged to be able to express my gratitude to you and all of those who stopped the Nazi plague. Among the many lives you saved, were the lives of my grandparents and great-grandparents”.

"My beloved, so many times before the fighting begins I see your face – and it is for you that I am fighting as bravely as I can,” sang Binyomin in Russian. Many were wiping their tears, as Binyomin performed another popular Russian World War II song, “There were only three of us still fighting – fifteen our friends were killed in this battle”. The words of this song brought back haunting images, that were, sadly, all too familiar to many in the audience. A diminutive white-haired lady asked for the microphone, both sides of her chest decorated with medals. “My name is Asma Gindina,” she began. "I fought my way out of a German encirclement, I fought in Stalingrad and Berlin, I spent three years on the front lines. After the end of the War I married and raised 9 children.” There was not dry eye in the audience, as Asma recited the poem she wrote about her war experiences.

Binyomin took the stage again and was joined by a member of the audience. “How we longed to see this day of Victory!” sang the American-born teen and the man, old enough to be his grandfather. This song was the perfect finale to an event that bridged generations and touched hearts.

The May 9th celebration at the JCC of Canarsie was made possible by several generous individuals, whose beneficence enabled us to organize an inspirational and emotionally charged event. We hope to be able to continue organizing such meaningful gatherings for the seniors of our community.

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