As the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivors gather again for an online reunion - World Jewish Congress

As the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivors gather again for an online reunion

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As the COVID-19 pandemic recedes, Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivors gather again for an online reunion

June 23, 2021 -- For the seventh time since the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic, World Jewish Congress President Ronald S. Lauder, who serves as Chairman of the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation (ABMF), convened a group of Auschwitz-Birkenau Survivors for a bi-monthly Zoom reunion by organized by ABMF.

At this week’s meeting, Amb. Lauder invited the survivors and their families to discuss the “increasing importance of Holocaust education at a time when antisemitism is growing in this country.“ He emphasized that the World Jewish Congress is focused on preventing and responding to antisemitism in the United States and across the globe, adding, “I promise all of you that I will never stop working toward this goal. We must never forget, and we must ensure that something like this never happens again.”

This most recent gathering of the ABMF took place the day before Holocaust Survivor Day, which was established to give the survivors an annual day of joy and celebration and will be held for the first time this year on 24 June .

Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic began in March 2020, Amb. Lauder hosted six previous online gatherings, organized by the ABMF, enabling the survivors and their families to celebrate holidays, connect on life’s challenges during the COVID-19 pandemic and share ideas on growing Holocaust awareness worldwide. Earlier events have included Passover and Hanukkah festivities, and the celebration of the engagement of delegation member David Marks and his fiancée, Kathy Peck.  

During this week’s gathering, Marks, originally from Romania who now lives in Connecticut, emphasized the need for young people to be fully aware of the legacy of the Holocaust.

“It is important for students to ask questions about how it started and how it has impacted the world,” Marks said. “Lessons must be taught and learned, respected and observed.”

Johnny Jablon of Montreal, who originally is from Poland, reflected on his recent experiences with antisemitism in Canada.

“The solution is only in education,” Jablon said. “Sooner or later it can turn into another Holocaust, so please, please do something about it.”

Other Survivors and their family members shared how, in response to the recent rise in antisemitism globally, they are prioritizing educating communities about the Holocaust. 

As the pandemic resolves over time, the Auschwitz-Birkenau Memorial Foundation will continue with the Zoom reunions, Amb. Lauder said in his remarks. These gatherings serve as an opportunity to strengthen a network of Survivors from around the world -- and their children and grandchildren.

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