January 27th was the 75th anniversary of Auschwitz’s liberation along with the observance of International Holocaust Remembrance Day. The first event of this year, Helping Hand Coalition, invited more than 150 survivors of the Holocaust from Hadera, Netanya, Haifa, and surrounding cities to attend a memorial to the six million Jews murdered during the Holocaust. It was an emotional event that brought up past pains, but it also allowed the survivors to speak about the importance of remembering this horrific period in history.
Andre Gasiorowski, the co-founder of Helping Hand Coalition, organized and hosted the event, with the help of Helping Hand Coalition’s team, and welcomed those who had come to attend the afternoon’s proceedings. Beginning the event, Andre Gasiorowski, with his wife Bozena, shared about the significance of connecting with the survivors’ pasts to educate the younger generations of the events that took place from 1935-1945. Andre also highlighted that though the world takes one day to remember the Holocaust, Helping Hand Coalition is dedicated to publishing testimonies and spreading global awareness throughout the year, along with hosting multiple events and projects for thousands of survivors living all over Israel.
Taking a minute of silence to remember those who did not survive, the entire auditorium got to its feet to honor their memories. A heaviness fell over the room as it became quiet, the only sound coming from Alyosha Ryabinov playing a single-note on the piano, a traditional Russian custom. Boom. Boom. Boom. Like a heart beating in the pain and memory of the Holocaust, the note’s vibrations echoed against the walls of the theater, causing goosebumps to appear on one’s arms.
When the moment was over, and everyone had taken their seats once again, Alyosha performed a touching piece called Abba, which spoke of the love and comfort God gives to His people.
Emotions ran high as multiple short videos were shown as a devastating reminder of the agony and suffering millions faced during the Holocaust. Tears could be heard falling from the cheeks of the survivors as they watched the images on the screen. Later in the event, one survivor would stand and share that they were not the ones who needed to see those videos, though it is important for them to remember their family, but it is the younger generations who need to become aware of the events of the Holocaust since they are the future of this world. Another survivor added to this comment by saying that if we do not show these videos or speak about the hardships that millions experienced, no one would believe that it happened, and the Holocaust would be forgotten.
Many of the survivors present had lost their parents during the war, but before they died, they told their children to “live and remember what has happened.” Knesset members and representatives from Hadera’s municipality were also present. When they spoke to the crowd of survivors, they assured the survivors that their voices are being heard and that the Israeli government will never stop pressing the issues of World War II during talks about education and world history.
Joining Helping Hand Coalition in remembering those who were killed was Sarah Goldfinger, the wife of the late Izak Goldfinger, with her daughter, Hily, and niece, Miri. Izak Goldfinger was a man whose story sparked the beginning of the organization, and to honor his memory, his family members stood to share a few words.
Sarah Goldfinger began by thanking everyone for coming and told the group about how hard it was to watch Izak’s story and see the pictures during the presentation. However, she followed this by saying that she is proud of the work Helping Hand is doing to help the world remember.
Miri didn’t speak for long and only thanked Helping Hand Coalition for the events that they organize and shared how special the events are to her.
Hily following her cousin’s speech and described to the audience how hard it was growing up with parents who had experienced the Holocaust. As a child, she felt a heaviness of her parents’ pain hanging in the air of their home, but it wasn’t until she had graduated from school that she learned the story of her parents’ lives during the war. Motivated by their story, Hily has dedicated her life to traveling around the world, educating teachers on the best way to teach the Holocaust to their students.
A round of applause was given at the end of the speeches, and before everybody left, the room came together to sing Israel’s national anthem, Hatikvah. While this was a solemn event, it was wonderful to see so many familiar faces in the audience as many had attended Shalom House events at the HHC Caesarea Villa. It is an honor to get to know these amazingly strong individuals and hear their stories when they ask to share.
Helping Hand Coalition would like to send their gratitude to the event’s special guests Yoel Razvozov and Tali Ploskov from the Knesset, Nir Ben Haim and Rav Ben Zion Nordman from Hadera’s municipality, and Sarah Goldfinger with her daughter Hily and niece Miri. Also, thanks to the groups of survivors, Alex Berman from Hazit Hakavod, and Jody and Alyosha Ryabinov, who performed a few songs for the survivors and lit up the room with their love and warmth, for coming to this event. The afternoon would not have been possible without Helping Hand Coalition’s team, who organized and participated in the event. Rita Tager especially, as she made all the phone calls and arrangements for the survivors to be present at the event.
Helping Hand Coalition is looking forward to organizing more gatherings this year and hopes you will join us in this amazing!