On Israel's Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 8, 2021, the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust launched a new tribute site to share the stories of Holocaust survivors who lost their lives amid the global pandemic.
The tribute page on the Museum’s website features the testimonials of relatives and images of those who lost their lives to COVID-19 and due to other causes since the pandemic began.
The memorial, a new section on the Museum’s website, is designed to remember those who survived the Holocaust, and provide a space for relatives to share their memories of loved ones.
“Over this past year, as we endured a devastating pandemic, we have heard from relatives who have sought ways to share the stories of perseverance and resilience in times of pain and in times of hope,” said Jack Kliger, President & CEO of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust.
“Since our founding days nearly 25 years ago, the Museum has dedicated our work to both those who lost their lives during the Holocaust, and those who survived, and their children and grandchildren. Through this new tribute page, we will ensure their lives will not be forgotten.”
It is estimated that more than 38,000 survivors – who are older than 75 – live in the greater New York metropolitan area, and it’s expected that population will decline to 23,400 within the next four years. Though there is no definitive account of how many have lost their lives due to COVID-19, some 900 people who survived the Holocaust died from COVID-19 in Israel alone, according to the country’s Central Bureau of Statistics.
All Holocaust survivors are at least 75 years old and COVID-19, the illness caused by the virus, is particularly lethal to seniors. Since the pandemic began, the Museum has enlisted staff to regularly engage with survivors affiliated with the Museum, calling them weekly, teaching those who normally would speak in person with students and other groups how to connect with them through technology, and supporting its café owner’s weekly delivery of meals to survivors in New York as they self-isolated.
To date, the Museum has collected 27 tributes, mainly from New Yorkers who have lost loved ones who lived in New York, Ohio, and other states. The Museum continues to seek those stories and encourages relatives from the New York metropolitan area and beyond to submit those stories, along with photos.
On Sunday, April 11, the Museum will present the Annual Gathering of Remembrance at 2:00 PM (ET), fulfilling the sacred Jewish obligation to remember those who were murdered during the Holocaust. The livestreamed event will be held on the Sunday closest to Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Special guests scheduled to appear include: Second Gentleman Doug Emhoff, US Senator Charles E. Schumer, Elisha Wiesel, Israeli Consul General Israel Nitzan, Dr. Ruth Westheimer, Cantor Joseph Malovany, Daniel Kahn, and Zalmen Mlotek.
Traditionally the largest Holocaust commemoration in the US, this year's commemoration will take place virtually due to the coronavirus pandemic that has required people to observe from their homes and not in a communal space. This year’s Annual Gathering of Remembrance will pay tribute to those survivors who lost their lives over the last year amid the COVID-19 pandemic, and honor their children, grandchildren and families.
“Each year, at the Annual Gathering of Remembrance, we bring thousands of New Yorkers together to say with one collective voice: we will never forget,” said Jack Kliger, President and CEO of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust. “Delivered by a city with one of the world’s largest communities of Holocaust survivors, this tribute has power that echoes across generations. Sadly, during this past year, many of those survivors lost their lives amid the pandemic, and so we will honor them during this program.”
“Even though this year we are not able to gather in person, it is still our obligation to remember those that we lost,” said Museum Trustee Rita Lerner, the daughter of two Holocaust survivors and the event Co-Chair. “We honor their memory and the memory of all survivors who have passed away, leaving us to carry on their great legacy.”
“As a third generation of survivors, we are honored to again participate in this annual tribute, which serves as a reminder that we must never forget,” said Alissa Rozen, Event Co-Chair and Young Friends of the Museum Board Member. “This is a moment to pause, to reflect, and to recommit to keeping the stories of the Holocaust alive.”
In addition to Rita Lerner and Alissa Rozen, this year’s event co-chairs are Alyssa Greengrass, Ann Oster, and Seth Weisleder. The Annual Gathering of Remembrance program will feature music, remarks from Holocaust survivors, young people, and public figures, and a candle-lighting ceremony.
This year’s partners are: Young Friends of the Museum of Jewish Heritage – A Living Memorial to the Holocaust, the Anti-Defamation League, 3GNY - Descendants of Holocaust Survivors, Congregation Emanu-El of the City of New York, Consulate General of Israel in New York, Manhattan Chapter of Women Holocaust Survivors, National Yiddish Theatre Folksbiene, Selfhelp Community Services, The Blue Card, The New York Board of Rabbis, and UJA-Federation of New York.