Survivors Room honors area survivors

by | May 19, 2022 | Trending News

An active Holocaust Commission has been part of United Jewish Federation of Tidewater for more than 30 years.

Among its numerous programs and projects, the Commission established a Speakers’ Bureau comprised of local Holocaust survivors. Escorted by Commission members, survivors regularly shared their stories throughout Tidewater and beyond. Today, many of these stories live through their own voices, embodied in the Commission’s internationally acclaimed film program, What We Carry. Even after their passing, these survivors—forever mentors and friends—continue to teach the lessons of the Holocaust to thousands of students, military and law enforcement personnel, and the world.

Now, through the dedicated vision of Leslie Siegel, a Commission member, these survivors have a special place at the Sandler Family Campus devoted to their memories. The Survivors Room, just off of the Cardo, has been created to honor their legacy and to exhibit their portraits. The doors are always open to browse, to meet, to play cards, or just relax amid books and stories reflecting the past.

The room’s walls host photographs taken by Dean Whitbeck in 2017 of the remaining survivors, for a project entitled, Faces of Survival, that was successfully chaired by Vivian Margulies. With the expertise and generosity of photographers Joseph Lust and Alexander Kravets, past survivors’ photographs were curated and added in 2019. Below each portrait is a history of the survivor’s journey written by Wendy Auerbach and Deb Segaloff. Pedestals throughout the room display student artwork from the Commission’s Elie Wiesel Visual Arts Competition. Jason Capossere, head of security for the Sandler Campus, created a beautiful wooden commemorative plaque, and dedicated staff member, Jaime Brathwaite, worked tirelessly on the room. Thanks to all who volunteered to assist in its efforts, the room is complete.

For those who had the privilege to know a local survivor, memories flood their minds as they enter this warm and welcoming sacred space.

The spirit of friendships made over decades endures. One can hear their voices, their message, their humor, and feel the strength of their character…laugh with Kitty Saks, marvel in David Katz’s humility, and heed Hanns Loewenbach’s words—“Evil does not need your help; only your indifference.”

These survivors’ images remind of the responsibility to educate the community and world of the horrific lessons of the Holocaust.

The community is invited to visit and find spiritual meaning in the library of books, and relaxation in these serene surroundings. While sitting in this oasis surrounded by moving stories of local survivors, find inspiration and a renewed commitment to create a better world in their honor and in their memory. We must never forget.

An opening reception for the Survivors Room honoring these remarkable people is planned for a future date.

Mickey Held is a long standing member and a past chair of the Holocaust Commission.

Photography by Mark Robbins.

Mickey Held