Never seeing beloved family again. Witnessing the horrors in Nazi death camps. Fighting to stay alive. The joy of liberation. The resilience to carry on and pass along the message: Never Forget. These words represent the stories of survivors of the Holocaust – and never are they heard so loudly than at MorseLife’s annual commemorations of Yom HaShoah.
On the evening of April 11th, seven survivors among residents of The Tradition at MorseLife and The Levin Tower conveyed their stories of survival to students of Temple Sharei Shalom in Boynton who later joined them in lighting candles as part of a moving, heart-breaking and inspiring ceremony. That powerful pairing remains part of our annual tradition to honor the legacies and lives of Holocaust victims and survivors on our campus, and throughout the world.
This year’s ceremony was led by Rabbi Steven Westman (filling in for Rabbi Alan Sherman who could not attend due to surgery) and featured the prayers and music of Cantor Margaret Schmitt of Temple Sinai.
Tradition residents Carl Wilner and Miriam Schwarcz were among the survivors who shared dinner and stories with the students at Temple Shaarei Shalom. (They were also featured recently on WPTV-TV telling their stories.) Mr. Wilner in particular is continuing his own 35 year commitment to speaking about the Holocaust. While he lost 80 family members, including his parents, he miraculously escaped the brutality of two ghettos, four labor camps and three concentration camps. As he told his student partner: “It became my mission from the words of my grandfather to live to tell the story,” he said. His story was told in the book Carl’s Story: The Persistence of Hope by Von Charles Petersen.
With music of Schindler’s list in the background, one by one, Carl Wilner, and Miriam Schwarcz of The Tradition, and Levin Tower residents Jeannette Nadle, Rita Greencorn, Florence Siegel and Laura Grossbard, joined the young people to light six candles in memory of the six million Jewish people who perished in the Holocaust. Survivor Sala Gleitman of Tradition also later joined staff member Vardit Bakal in lighting the Candle of Hope at the end of the ceremony.
Our Yom HaShoah commemoration is among the many ongoing traditions that honor the spirit and resilience of the Jewish people, and in this case, of those among our residents whose lives were personally impacted by the Holocaust. Doing so is an honor and privilege.