This past Sunday, over 450 people came together for the Yom Hashoah remembrance program at Beth Jacob Synagogue, where we remembered the six million Jews who perished in the Holocaust and heard stories of inspiration from local survivors and their families. I have no doubt the event left an indelible impression on those who attended.

As I sat in the sanctuary and listened to our keynote speaker Dr. Felix Garfunkel share his personal story of survival, I was struck by his kindness, gentleness and strength. What an inspiration to those of us who were lucky enough to hear him speak.

Sam Heider, who is also a Holocaust survivor, spoke about his experiences living through several concentration camps. Sam’s words were emotional and powerful. Because of anti-Semitism in Poland in the 1930s, even before the Nazi invasion, Sam was not able to have his Bar Mitzvah as a young boy. He was recently surprised with a Bar Mitzvah several weeks ago, which was featured on the local and national news. I was moved, as was everyone in attendance.

After the program, I spoke with a teacher who was in attendance with several of her students who had participated in the Max May & Lydia May Memorial Holocaust Art & Writing contest. Named after Renate Frydman’s grandparents, the contest allows local students to convey their feelings about the Holocaust in an artistic way. The teacher felt it was important not only for her students to learn about the Holocaust, but to hear directly from those who survived it. She was so impressed that we had not one but two survivors speak. She also expressed gratitude for Felix and Sam’s willingness to share their stories with the community.

I feel incredibly thankful for the many people in our community who work so hard to ensure those who suffered through the Holocaust are never forgotten. There is a wonderful interview with Renate Frydman in the most recent issue of the Jewish Dayton Magazine. Renate serves as the foundation for Holocaust education in our community. I encourage you to read the article for more information.

May we never forget.




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