2008-06-04 / Local News

Zachor: Cherry Hill teen founds group to preserve the memory of the Holocaust

By DAVID PORTNOE Voice staff

AGE: 15
Parents Gail and Robert; brothers,
Joshua, 18, and Joel, 11
Cong. Sons of Israel
Gossip Girl (also favorite TV show)
"Everything" by Michael Buble
Macaroni & Cheese

Taken from the Lodz Ghetto and sent to Auschwitz, Israel Dubner and his mother were quickly separated- Dubner sent to the right, his mother to the left. Moments earlier, handing her his last piece of bread, he had told her to stay strong and said that he would be strong also. He had told her that he would make her proud.

"That was the last time he saw his mom. He found out later that she was sent to the gas chambers," said Arielle Belfer, a 10th grader at the Jack M. Barrack Hebrew Academy. She was speaking of her grandfather and she worries that stories like his, the stories of Holocaust survivors, will be forgotten.

"His story inspired me," said Belfer, explaining why she founded Holocaust Education, Action & Reflection (HEAR), at Barrack Academy. The school group, which raises Holocaust awareness, organized Barrack's recent Yom Hashoa program. "We brought in a survivor, who shared his story and lit a candle in memory of those who perished," Belfer said.

HEAR has 10-15 active members who attend the group's weekly meetings, according to the lively Cherry Hill resident. Its projects include collecting information from Barrack students about relatives who either perished in or survived what has been called 20th Century mankind's darkest hour.

"We are the last generation to hear the survivor stories first-hand," said Belfer. She hopes HEAR will reach out all over campus and keep their memories alive.

HEAR is only one of Belfer's many school activities. A selfdescribed "athletic girl," she also plays on the basketball and track teams.

"Basketball is my sport. Track is on the side for fun," she said.

A point guard and shooting guard, she beamed with pride as she said that Barrack's girls' basketball team has won the league championship the past two years. Belfer will soon bring her prowess on the court to the Maccabi games in Detroit. Last summer, she competed in the Maccabi in California.

Belfer is also in Barrack's Israel Club (her brother Joshua is president), and plans a semester in Israel on the Alexander Muss High School in Israel program next year. But first comes the summer when she will tutor kids in Camden for the Camden-Jewish Partnership. "I love being around kids," she said.

A Kellman Academy graduate, she can see a career as a day school teacher. .

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