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More Than 100 Gather to Recognize Holocaust Survivor Day in Elkins Park, Pennsylvania

By Marcella Baietto, CBS News Philadelphia

ELKINS PARK, Pa. (CBS) – As traditional klezmer music played, tables full of Holocaust survivors and their families enjoyed a kosher lunch in Elkins Park on Tuesday.

One by one, candles were lit as more than 100 people gathered to recognize Holocaust Survivor Day at Reform Congregation Keneseth Israel.

“It’s a holiday that was recognized last year by the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania and the City of Philadelphia as an official holiday,” Jason Holtzman, with the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, said. “It’s not a holiday that I grew up with, but now that we’re doing it, I really appreciate it.”

The event is meant to focus on survivor’s achievements, their legacies and the future of the local Jewish community.

“We do need to learn about the horrors that they lived through, but also the lessons of resilience and hope and the idea that they had the courage to begin a life again after witnessing the most impossible horrible things,” Marcy Gringlas said.

Organizers said about 85 survivors attended the event, along with their family members from different generations.

“We have some second-generation survivors, third-generation survivors, like myself, and there might even be a fourth-generation survivor in the room,” Holtzman said.

Gringlas is the president of Seed the Dream Foundation.

She said Tuesday’s gathering was heartwarming, especially with her mother by her side and her father in her memory.
“I’m the daughter of two Holocaust survivors,” Gringlas said. “My father passed away two years ago and he was a survivor. He was from Poland and he was a survivor of multiple concentration camps including Auschwitz…He was my hero.”

Leaders within the community also took time to recognize the ongoing war between Israel and Hamas.

“I think that what’s going on in Israel and the rise of antisemitism is retraumatizing for our Holocaust survivors and that’s what we pay most attention to,” Paula Goldstein, with the Jewish Family and Children’s Service of Greater Philadelphia, said. “We want to help them feel support.”

Organizers hope the day’s importance will only grow throughout the years as they continue to honor their loved ones.

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