2017-04-12 / Columns

Our community stands at the forefront in helping Holocaust Survivors

Federation President

We are currently celebrating Passover with family and friends, and at the Seder we tell the story of the journey from bondage to freedom. Shortly thereafter, we will be observing Yom Hashoah at a program hosted by our own Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) on April 23 at Adath Emanu- El in Mount Laurel. This is a time to honor the memory of our fellow Jews who were persecuted and murdered during the Shoah, and also to honor the Survivors, many of whom were saved by courageous and heroic acts of fellow Jews and by the acts of righteous gentiles who risked their own lives to do the right thing. This year, we will hear from a local Survivor and her daughter about continuing the legacy. Terry Herskovits and Judy Wizmur will recount Terry’s story of survival and the importance of sharing the story of the Holocaust with the next generation.

Support for our community’s Holocaust Survivors doesn’t stop there. The lessons to be learned are an integral piece of the legacy that we want to pass on to future generations. The JCRC’s Esther Raab Holocaust Museum & Goodwin Education Center educates people about the past and helps to prevent history from repeating itself by teaching the painful lessons of the Holocaust, reducing prejudice, and lessening hatred, bigotry, bullying, and violence against all groups of people— not just the Jewish community.

The Esther Raab Holocaust Museum is an incredible resource for our community, and a powerful reminder of the mass persecution of the Jewish people less than a century ago. The Goodwin Education Center takes the lessons of the Holocaust outside of the museum’s walls with programming for students, resources and training for teachers, and student community service awards. There is also a “Generations After” program that assists the children and grandchildren of Survivors in preserving their family histories and honor the legacy of their parents and grandparents.

Samost Jewish Family & Children’s Service (JFCS) provides over $1-million worth of support services to local Holocaust Survivors each year through reparation payments from The Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. This expands the JFCS service area to include Cumberland County, where a large percentage of Survivors still reside in Vineland. These support services include case management, counseling, in-home care, companion care, nursing services, and assistance with Survivor benefits. JFCS also hosts a monthly luncheon for Survivors, enabling them the opportunity to socialize with their peers in a safe, warm, and welcoming environment.

For more information about JCRC’s community Holocaust commemoration, visit jcrcsnj.org or call Helen Kirschbaum at (856) 751-9500, ext. 1249. The entire community is welcome to attend the free Yom Hashoah event and transportation is being offered for seniors who wish to attend.

Every Passover, Elijah has a standing invitation to the Seder. We open our doors, set a place at our tables, and fill his cup. Similarly, our door at Federation is also always open—and not just for Elijah. It’s open for those looking for a place to call home, for those in need, and for those looking to find their Jewish “center.” It’s open for YOU.

Wishing you and your family joy and many blessings this Passover and throughout the year.


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