2015-11-25 / Columns

South Jersey teens take part in Global Shabbat to remember

By BONNIE DOOGAN SJ Region Mazkirah

SJR BBYO members Drew Hoffman and Zoe Arking. SJR BBYO members Drew Hoffman and Zoe Arking. The local teens of South Jersey Region make up just a small part of the global youth movement that is BBYO. We love and enjoy all of our own special events and traditions, but participating in initiatives set forth by the international order is always great. On Nov. 6, over 500 BBYO communities gathered to participate in a Global Shabbat. Shabbat services and programming took place both near and far. Teens from all over the U.S. and international teens from Bulgaria, Argentina and more were united in spirit on this extra meaningful Shabbos.

The theme was set to be “A Shabbat to Remember” honoring Holocaust survivors. SJR was very excited to welcome Judy Wizmur to speak on behalf of her mother, Terry Herskovits, who was born and lived in Hungary all throughout the Holocaust.

She was miraculously spared from being sent to a concentration camp when a guard threw her off of a train heading there. She survived in hiding through the war, got married, and had her children in Europe post- World War II. The Holocaust was over but Communism and anti-Semitism were still alive. Terry refused to live in a world of hate and fear. She, her husband and children were eventually able to move to the U.S. for a better life where they could practice their Judaism freely.

Judy both told her mother’s story and answered questions and got some great conversation going. A teen asked Judy how her mother was able to keep such great faith even through the atrocities she experienced so personally. Judy recounted that her mother’s strong Jewish faith never wavered and was a big reason she able to emotionally cope with what she and millions of others went through.

“Hearing Terry’s story made me realize how important it is to take pride in my Jewish identity,” said Marlena Penn.

“I was able to develop a better understanding of what European Jews went through before, during and after the war,” added Andrew Quigley.

Throughout my life and time in Hebrew school and later through BBYO, I have heard many personal accounts from Holocaust survivors. Terry’s story was different than most, but like all of the others left me speechless and so proud to be a Jew. Despite the strength and bravery Terry displayed during the war, I found her actions afterwards even more inspiring. She spoke to her children and others openly about her life experiences. Her daughter Judy’s words reflected that of such a strong Jewish spirit empowered by the terrible events her very own family lived through. This amazing spirit was surely passed down by her mother with ease. Hearing from Judy definitely made a Shabbat I will remember.

Our gathering for Global Shabbat was a meaningful night for all. The time we spent with Judy and the Shabbat service afterwards inspired much thought and reflection. And thanks to Judy’s words and Terry’s story it was a night filled with a strong pride in being Jewish. This pride was so impactful when felt all-together as a community and intensified even further knowing how many other teens were participating in Global Shabbat. It truly is amazing to be able to practice Judaism freely with events like this and to be reminded what we have endured as a people to get to this point. .

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