A thousand released IDF soldiers celebrate Hanukkah with Holocaust survivors




Young students part of Friends of IDF scholarship fund visit 500 homes of Holocaust survivors to light the first candle of Hanukkah.


More than a thousand released IDF soldiers visited the homes of about 500 Holocaust Survivors in Israel to celebrate the first night of Hanukkah with them as part of a broader initiative by the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims and the Impact scholarship program funded by the Friends of the IDF organization.

About a dozen released IDF soldiers arrived at the Gil Oz retirement home in Petah Tikva to light the first candle with holocaust survivors.

Released IDF soldiers light first candle of Hanukkah at the Gil Oz retirement home in Petah Tikva. (Photo: Yaron Brenner)
Released IDF soldiers light first candle of Hanukkah at the Gil Oz retirement home in Petah Tikva. (Photo: Yaron Brenner)

Bila Lutstein, a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor, said: “I’m happy about the new friends that came to celebrate the holiday with us. It’s fun to get out of a routine and hold an event to light the candles. It still excites me very year anew, to celebrate the holiday in Israel and to feel the sense of Zionism and belonging.”

Shkolnik Z’non, a 79-year-old Holocaust survivor from Poland who survived the Holocaust by first escaping to Siberia and later hid in a forest in Ukraine, said: “I feel amazing and proud to light the first candle of Hanukkah. It is an amazing opportunity to be happy together and it is very comforting to see this young group and feel the holiday spirit that they bring with them.”

Holocaust survivors eating traditional sufganyot at Gil Oz retirement home in Petah Tikva. (Photo: Yaron Brenner)
Holocaust survivors eating traditional sufganyot at Gil Oz retirement home in Petah Tikva. (Photo: Yaron Brenner)

“It’s very emotional to celebrate here with the survivors,” said Elchi Malichi, 25, a civil engineering student. “I feel the need to donate to them as much as possible and give them the respect that they deserve. At the end of the day we are here thanks to them and are continuing their path.”

Malichi, who served as a fighter and commander in the Shimshon Battalion of the Kfir Brigade, said that “On a day-to-day basis I don’t get to meet these people and unfortunately for us it will become rarer as more and more survivors pass away. I’m happy to have been given this opportunity to light the first candle of Hanukah with survivors, to provide them with love and warmth and to recognize them for what they went through and persevered in the name of the Jewish nation. It is an empowering experience and something I will never forget.”

The released IDF soldiers brought Menorahs, candles, and sufganyot (jelly doughnuts) to the homes of the survivors, with at least two scholarship recipients arriving at each home.

The released soldiers who are a part of the scholarship fund also conducted Hanukkah parties at about 50 retirement homes all over Israel that house Holocaust survivors.

Orit Margolis, 26, who served in the combat support of the Engineering Corps, said that she feels a sense of duty. “It’s a special opportunity to meet with people who survived despite the impossible reality they experienced and it warms my heart to visit survivors and to learn from them,” said Margolis, who is an accounting student.

Margolis added that the younger generation bears the responsibility to “remember and pass on the stories of the survivors to the next generation, who will not have the honor to meet the generation of holocaust survivors personally.”
The CEO of the Foundation for the Benefit of Holocaust Victims, Rony Kalinsky, explained that “several Holocaust survivors have suffered feelings of loneliness and hardship for many years, feelings that are likely to heighten during holiday season. The initiative enables the survivors to experience and celebrate the holiday of miracles with a big group.”

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Holocaust Survivor Hauptman dies; will be buried in Colorado Springs Read more at http://gazette.com/holocaust-survivor-hauptman-dies-will-be-buried-in-colorado-springs/article/1543321#QtTMFohFHMWwwMdP.99



Holocaust survivor, lion tamer and longtime Colorado Springs resident Sara Hauptman died Wednesday in El Paso, Texas.

She was 96.

Hauptman was born Aug. 15, 
1918, in Brussels.

She lost several family members to the Holocaust, including her mother and younger brother, who were killed in a concentration camp gas chamber.

After her husband, Nathan, was arrested, the 4-foot-11 Hauptman sent her two kids into hiding and joined the Belgian Resistance.

Hauptman, described by her son as “feisty,” worked as a lion tamer at the Cirque Royale in Brussels as a cover for two years before being arrested and taken to Auschwitz.

After the war, Hauptman was reunited with her husband and her two children, Guy and Monique. The family immigrated to the United States in 1951 and lived in El Paso for several years before moving to Colorado Springs in the early 1960s.

Hauptman lived in Colorado Springs for more than 
30 years and shared her story with countless students in schools across the city, and recounted her experiences in the book “The Lioness of Judah.”

“She wanted people to remember what happened so that it would never happen again. She spoke to as many people as she could,” said Guy Hauptman, 75. “She touched the lives of probably 10,000 people.”

Hauptman also is survived by two brothers, two sisters, three grandchildren and eight great-grandchildren.

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Hedy Epstein, 90-Year-Old Holocaust Survivor, Arrested During Michael Brown Protest








Hedy Epstein, a 90-year-old Holocaust survivor, was arrested on Monday during unrest over the death of Michael Brown,KMOV reports.

Epstein, who aided Allied forces in the Nuremberg trials, was placed under arrest in downtown St. Louis, Missouri, “for failing to disperse” during a protest of Gov. Jay Nixon’s decision to call the National Guard into Ferguson. Eight others were also arrested.

“I’ve been doing this since I was a teenager. I didn’t think I would have to do it when I was 90,” Epstein told The Nation during her arrest. “We need to stand up today so that people won’t have to do this when they’re 90.”

Epstein is currently an activist and a vocal supporter of the Free Gaza Movement.

Tensions rose in Ferguson on Monday night after Nixon announced that the National Guard had been called in to help run the command center while police handled the protests.

Several people were arrested as protests ramped up, including Scott Olson, a photographer working for Getty Images.


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Holocaust survivor donates accordion from Nazi camp





A Long Island man is making a very special donation to a local Holocaust memorial. He is gifting an accordion that was given to him when he was a prisoner in a Nazi concentration camp during World War II.

Several decades later, Alex Rosner, now 79, realizes the significance of that instrument whereas when he was a child he didn’t think it was a big deal.

A female Nazi guard gave the Traviata accordion to Alex in the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in Poland. He believes it was confiscated from someone who was sent to the gas chamber.

Music had a huge role in his family’s survival. Alex’s father, Henry, also played the violin for officers in the camp. At one point the instruments were actually taken from them, but fortunately were returned by Oscar Schindler when the family was reunited in Germany.

The family then emigrated to the United States. The musical instruments came with them. Alex held onto it ever since. Just a few months ago, he donated it to the Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County in Glen Cove.


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Czech president expected to unveil roadmap for combating racism.



The very future of European Jewry stands in the balance, European Jewish Congress president Moshe Kantor said in a statement Monday, announcing a conference on contemporary anti-Semitism to take place during his organization’s commemoration of the liberation of the Auschwitz death camp later this month in Prague.

On January 27, 1945, Auschwitz- Birkenau, the largest Nazi death camp, was liberated by Soviet troops. The United Nations established International Holocaust Remembrance Day on that date.

“Commemoration alone is not enough,” Kantor opined.

“To prevent history repeating itself, we need more than speeches about dark chapters of history. We need to deal with the present challenges we face and safeguard our future.”

European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker, the president of the European Parliament, and other senior EU officials are expected to join parliamentarians from a number of nations to debate strategies to cope with what the Jewish body characterized as “the rise of anti-Semitism, racism, and xenophobia in Europe.”

The European Jewish Congress, an affiliate of the World Jewish Congress, comprises communities throughout the continent. It hopes its discussions will aid in creating a legal framework to “outlaw effectively these intolerant and dangerous tendencies.”


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Holocaust survivor’s chilling tale prompts bond with young German mom



Stories have power. They can bridge divides between strangers and make them feel as connected as kin.

On the couch in her Encino living room on a rainy December afternoon, Paula Lebovics is holding hands with Olga Burkhardt.

“She’s my granddaughter,” the 81-year-old says proudly, pulling Burkhardt, 29, near — and it is true, even though it isn’t.

Lebovics is Jewish and a Holocaust survivor, liberated at age 11 from Birkenau concentration camp. On her left forearm, she bears the Nazis’ tattooed identification number.

Burkhardt is not Jewish. She lives in Germany. Her mother was born, the year Lebovics was rescued, in an underground bomb shelter as Allied bombs fell.

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‘You can’t believe what it was like’: Holocaust survivors remember

holocaust 913 816 10202014 spf 0498f  Photos and papers testify to the heroism of Gitla Doppelt’s brother, Israel Slonimski.



The year is 1942. World War II rages on. In occupied Eastern Europe and the Soviet Union, German Chancellor Adolf Hitler’s Nazi regime is systematically shattering the Jewish population through intimidation, persecution, discrimination and slaughter.

Initial reports reach the West that gas is being used to kill Jews being shipped by rail to concentration camps.

Two Jewish teenage girls whose tragic circumstances will eventually bring them to Kansas City as young women — and bond them as lifelong friends — struggle to live amidst chaos and sorrow.

By August 1942, 13-year-old Rivka Chaba, born in Lipiny, Poland, has already survived three years of unthinkable conditions in the Polish Kamionka ghetto (formerly the Jewish town of Bedzin) with her mother, Faygla; father, Berl; sister, Adela; and brother, Abramkin.

Under a blazing summer sun, SS doctors scrutinize Rivka and her family during a selection process. Divided into male and female lines, the elderly and children younger than 13 are shuffled into a group that will end up in a death camp. Boys and girls 13 and older are marked for work camps.

Wrenched from her family, Rivka is crammed onto a sweltering transport train with thousands of other souls bound for Parschnitz, a Czechoslovakian slave-labor concentration camp.

Rivka is unaware of her family’s impending destiny. They are on a transport train headed for Auschwitz, the Nazi concentration and extermination camp, a horrific point-of-no-return for most of its inhabitants. They would all die there.


Noted New Haven area tailor, Holocaust survivor, dies




Sidney Glucksman, 87, a Polish-born Holocaust survivor who always had a way with the needle and thread died Sunday morning.

Glucksman’s funeral is scheduled to be held at noon Monday in Woodbridge at Congregation B’Nai Jacob, 75 Rimmon Road.

Glucksman, a noted area tailor, began the trade that would last for the rest of his life at age 12, sewing swastikas on Nazi uniforms while working as a slave laborer at the Dachau Concentration Camp. Trucked away from his home in Poland and shipped 600 miles east into Nazi Germany, Glucksman was a witness to historic atrocities.


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Family Film Offers Glimpse Of ‘Three Minutes In Poland’ Before Holocaust



During a 1938 vacation to his hometown, Glenn Kurtz’s grandfather filmed the townspeople of Nasielsk, a Jewish community in Poland, just before World War II.


In 2009, Glenn Kurtz stumbled across some old family films in a closet in his parents’ house in Florida. One of the films, shot more than 70 years earlier by his grandparents while on vacation in Europe, turned out to include footage of his grandfather’s hometown in Poland.

“I realized it was 1938,” Kurtz tells NPR’s Rachel Martin. “And there are all of these beautiful images of children and adults in this town, one year before World War II begins. I was just haunted by these faces. They’re so happy to be filmed, they’re so excited to see these Americans coming to visit the town. And of course I know something that they don’t know — which is what’s about to happen.”

Kurtz set out to restore the film (which you can watch here) and find the people in it. The book based on this journey is called Three Minutes in Poland: Discovering a Lost World in a 1938 Family Film.


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