By Stephen E. Lipken
A brilliant sunny day marked the Annual Countywide Yom Hashoah Holocaust Commemoration in the Garden of Remembrance on 148 Martine Avenue, White Plains on Thursday, May 2nd, presented by the Holocaust and Human Rights Education Center (HHREC) and Westchester Jewish Council (WJC).
The Program opened with HHREC/WJC member Mitchell Ostrove sounding a Shofar, followed by a parade of Holocaust-rescued Torahs residing in local synagogues.
HHREC Chair Joseph Kaidanow called attention to the massacres at Tree of Life Synagogue, Pittsburgh last October; Chabad, Poway, California; Christ Church, New Zealand and Sri Lanka bombings.
“Each of these events painfully illustrates that humanity still has not learned the lessons of the Holocaust,” Kaidanow ruefully observed.
“These concentration camps were set up in a week,” County Executive George Latimer stressed, mentioning that events had built up a decade before, including boycotting Jewish businesses, book burnings and marking ‘J’ on Jewish passports. “We must not forget that it happened slowly and insidiously...”
“My mother made a plan for me,” Holocaust survivor Helga Luden remarked, regarding her escape from Vichy internment camp Gurs. “Every night we dug underneath the barracks. I crawled underneath the barbed wire and into the woods. Whatever I ate in the woods didn’t agree with me. I was very ill with pox all over my body.” Discovered by French Jewish partisans, she was taken to a convent.
Luden was reunited with her mother and they hid in an attic in Marseilles.
After also reuniting with her father, Luden came to America from the Dominican Republic and married Mayer, another Holocaust survivor, resulting in 3 children and 12 grandchildren.
After the Program, New Rochelle resident Leah Rozenfeld Sills gave a special presentation at the White Plains Courthouse, Second Floor, recounting her father Stefan, grandparents Abraham and Eugenia Rozenfeld’s escape from Lodz, Poland, when Eugenia traveled from Hamburg to meet husband Abraham in Belgium.