April 21, 2024
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Bruriah Students Learn Powerful Lessons This Yom HaShoah

The juxtaposition of solemnity and humor made a deep impression on Bruriah students this Yom HaShoah as visiting survivors reflected optimism, grace and unwavering faith even as they relayed details of their harrowing wartime experiences.

The morning began with the lighting of six candles by students who spoke about the Holocaust, including junior Chana Rutner of West Orange, Sophomore Bracha Gewirtz of Monsey, senior Bina Davidson of Elizabeth, freshman Rivka Shapiro of Hillside, junior Ahava Sheer of Passaic and senior Racheli Goldstein of Passaic.

In an effort to personalize the Holocaust, the names of 350 murdered children were distributed to each student and all Torah learning throughout the day was dedicated l’iluy nishmoteyhem.

The day’s itinerary also included hearing from survivors, including Annette Lauer of Elizabeth, who spoke of her experiences and ultimate escape to Switzerland, and Seymour Kaplan, who was an American GI serving as translator for the U.S. troops liberating Dachau.

Jerry Stein, grandfather of Bruriah graduate Leah Schild ‘97, took students on a journey of his wartime experience, which began when he was only 13 years old. Punctuating his words with a good dose of humor, Mr. Stein told of several near-death circumstances and his survival time and time again, always seemingly against all odds.

Eagerly rolling up his sleeve to show students his numbered tattoo from Auschwitz, he smiled, which prompted one student to question his attitude about the ominous number. “I am very proud of my number,” he exclaimed in response. “I survived! I survived the war and I have built a large and beautiful family. I have 14 grandchildren, 18 great-grandchildren and now I even have a great-great granddaughter. The Nazis did not win. This is my revenge.”

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