In what translated into a celebration of survival, hope and courage for Holocaust survivors and their guests, the Joan and Alan Bernikow Jewish Community Center of Staten Island played host to the sixth annual Cafe Europa, Sunday, June 5.
The day's event, themed Jerusalem Day, included 15 Holocaust survivors and 35 family members who represented second-, third- and fourth-generations of those who withstood the odds and survived the horrors of the Holocaust.
The purpose of the event in Cafe Europa -- funded by the UJA-Federation of New York and the Claims Conference -- is to create a forum for Holocaust Survivors and generations of families, in order that they join together to share and further their legacy.
Cafe Europa chairperson, Rachel Borenstein, a second-generation Holocaust survivor herself and Cafe Europa chairperson for the past six years, is the daughter of the late Emil Jacoby (1923-1998) an artist, and Holocaust victim who survived a Nazi concentration camp and lived in Grasmere from 1985 until his death in 1998.
Rachel reminded the audience: "Seven decades are not long enough for us to forget the six million Jews that perished in the Holocaust. We celebrated together our humanity because 'even in darkness it is possible to create light," quoting Eli Wiesel.
The program included tunes sung in honor of Yom Yerushalayim, an Israeli national holiday, that commemorated the re-unification of Jerusalem in 1967, as well a entertainment by the Tsu Fils Klezmer Band.
Art work by Betty Roth, a former Staten Island resident, was exhibited, with many of her landscapes and still life utilizing reflection in glass. Ms. Roth celebrated her 70th birthday at the event.
Roth was born in a Displaced Persons camp in Austria. Her parents Sheindel and Mordechai, survived labor and concentration camps, including Buchenwald, Bergen-Belsen and Theresienstadt, where they married after their liberation.
Survivors were photographed by Sara Signorelli and a slideshow of her photos from last year were on display.
"It was inspiring to see Holocaust survivors, whose tragic histories we know, join with their families in singing and dancing as a community," said Professor Lori R. Weintrob, director of Holocaust Education at Wagner College.
Cafe Europa committee members include: Rachel Borenstein, a second generation of a Holocaust survivor and chairperson, Noga Kugel, the liaison for Staten Island Holocaust survivors, Neshama Marcus, social worker and director of Social Services and Disaster Relief Department at the JCC, and Professor Weintrob.
Survivors in attendance included: Greda Schindler, Chaim Ben-Aron, Margot Capell, Hannah Steiner, Miriam Jacobs-Schwarcz, Amalie Kleinman, Clara Chodeles, Brenda and Moritz Perelman, Arnold Aronowitz, Renee Katz, Ernie Buehler, David Srulovich, Gabi Held and George Gelb.
For further information about future Cafe Europa events, kindly contact Sara Cohen, JCC Jewish Program Coordinator, 718-475-5242 or firstname.lastname@example.org