Posted on April 1, 2015
As too many of us know, few Holocaust survivors are alive to share their personal experiences. Their testimony to the horrors of the Holocaust keep the memory of their families alive, teach those who weren’t there of their experiences, and inform a new generation about the Holocaust. It is imperative that we hear the voices of our survivors and that we bring our youth to hear them as well. As a rabbi, I feel an enormous mission to encourage as many people as possible to meet, listen, and hear the life stories of Holocaust survivors.
On Wednesday night, April 15, starting at 7:00 p.m., we will have our Yom Hashoa/Holocaust Commemoration service. This will feature the participation of our youth, survivors and their families, and the beautiful voices of our choir. Speaking that evening will be Dorothy Greenstein. Dorothy was born in 1930 in Otwock, Poland just outside of Warsaw to Yehoshua and Golda Kirszenbaum. Her father was a rabbi and a shochet (one who ritually slaughters animals for meat). Dorothy remembers loving to read and studying Hebrew as a young girl. At the age of 9, things dramatically changed for Dorothy. She was forced to live in a ghetto with her family.However, Dorothy was lucky, very lucky. She had light hair and blue eyes. Since the Nazis were taught that Jews don’t have blue eyes or blonde hair, she could escape their detection. Dorothy would climb through a hall in the wall of the ghetto to bring back food. The Nazis always assumed she was just a Polish girl.
When she was 11 years old, she snuck out of the ghetto and worked as a “mother’s helper” where she cleaned and took care of children. She abruptly had to leave her first job because her boss noticed that no family ever visited her. When asked if she was Jewish, Dorothy took the first opportunity to flee. At the next house, she was very careful. She never spoke Yiddish and willed herself to not even dream in that language that could reveal her identity. One night as she lay in bed frightened, her father came to her in a dream where he told her, “Don’t be afraid. I’ll watch over you.” In August 1945, her sister arrived at the door to pick her up.
Come hear more of Dorothy’s story on Wednesday night, April 15. Please invite any friends, students, and teens to our Yom Hashoa commemoration.