July 24, 2024
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July 24, 2024
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Tween Arielle Pfefer Publishes Stories From Holocaust Survivors

Last year, Arielle Pfefer’s last grandparent passed away. Over the course of the family’s shiva, she heard the adults around her discussing how sad it is now that there is no longer anyone around to tell stories of survival. Arielle’s grandparents were from Europe, and her father Adam’s parents had been through Auschwitz.

“She was awestruck,” said Arielle’s mother, Daniella Pfefer. “Arielle couldn’t believe that no one would have these stories to tell and felt she had to do something about it.”

An enthusiastic student at Yeshivat He’Atid, Arielle had always been interested in history. She knew she had a role in her family’s history and chose to write this story down. As she started writing down the stories of her grandparents, it occured to Arielle that if her family had history that was being lost, there must be others out there with the same tale. She decided that as she approached her bat mitzvah, she would collect these stories of survival and publish them for everyone to access and appreciate.

“We reached out to people, and at first responses were slow, but once word of mouth spread, people were eager to share,” Arielle said. What began as a project to collect up to 10 stories surpassed their expectations and grew to 15 in total.

“We’re so proud that she has this willingness to perpetuate her ancestors’ stories,” said Arielle’s parents. “It is so important to remember, and necessary to who we are as Jewish people. Arielle picked a time in her life that many think only about a party, and she made a special link.” Her mother even remarked how as a “Purim baby,” with Arielle’s actual bat mitzvah on Purim, as well as celebration on Purim day itself, it is fitting that her focus with this book is one of the Jewish people’s triumph against genocide, similar to the story of Purim.

While Arielle has created this book on behalf of others, there is so much she has gained from it as well. “What I really took away from this is how there is so much unity in the Jewish people,” she said. “So many of my friends have grandparents with similar stories, and there are so many stories of strength.” The book has many different stories to tell. Some stories are those of the resistance fighters, while others survived concentration camps. Some of the survivors are still alive and were able to give their stories to Arielle directly, and the book has pictures of them with their great-grandchildren. “That was really moving to be able to include,” she said.

Titled “Our Testimonies,” Arielle’s collection of survivor accounts will be available on Amazon beginning March 21, and the Pfefers will have some hard copies as well for anyone interested in seeing it in person and buying the book. “As the gap of generations between survivors and their offspring becomes greater, their testimonies become essential. This is the purpose of her bat mitzvah project. We are very proud of Arielle for realizing how important this is for Jewish people and our history.”

By Jenny Gans

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