2014 Campus News: Fourth Annual Brunch for Holocaust Survivors

2014 Campus News: Fourth Annual Brunch for Holocaust Survivors

Survivors Share Stories of Tragedy and Renewal

"Let us all pray that we will never forget."  ~ Rabbi James Michaels, Charles E. Smith Life Communities

2014 Holocaust Brunch"We rode a train for three days, three nights, nothing to eat, in freezing cold. Frozen people were thrown out like garbage," recalls Landow House resident Beril Sinnreich, sobbing. "When a soldier asked, 'Do you want to go to work or get shot,' I said I want to get shot." A native of Romania, Mr. Sinnreich endured the back-breaking work of a forced labor camp, pointing out that prisoners were fed only a "spoonful of beans" at 6 in the morning and a watery soup of potato peals and a few cabbage leaves for lunch and dinner. "This was only 1 percent of what I went through," he added bitterly.

Mr. Sinnreich was one of the guests who bravely spoke before a group of nearly 160 attendees at the Fourth Annual Brunch Honoring Holocaust Survivors, held at Ring House on April 27, 2014, one day before Yom Ha'Shoah. He and 35 other survivors who live on our campus were encouraged to share memories with guests of all ages, including friends and members of their own families.

Alan M. Freeman, President, Housing Boards, Charles E. Smith Life Communities, declared in an opening statement that "these residents being honored survived the unsurvivable." He introduced his young son Teddy, explaining that he specifically brought him to the event so that he would be prepared to assert that the Holocaust "did happen because I heard from those who experienced it."

The brunch was warmly hosted, as in previous years, by the Progress Club. Joel Appelbaum, vice president of the Rockville-based organization, is committed to its continuance "for as long as there are survivors on this campus." "It may not go longer than 10 years," he admits, "given the age of this population." He also acknowledges that chances are dwindling to hear accurate eye-witness accounts of the tragedy that befell European Jews during the war. Thus, central to his mission is providing a venue for survivors to speak up while they are still able.

Another resident who rose to tell her story was Edith S. Ratner of Ring House. She and her family escaped from Germany before 1939; because this was not accomplished easily she bristles with indignation when people suggest that she wasn't a victim of the Holocaust. She, her parents, and five siblings watched in horror as attacks on Jews mounted and shared the collective shock of hearing a night-time knock at the door of their home. Nazi soldiers entered the parlor demanding that her father come with them. "Over my dead body," declared her mother, at which point her father fainted and Edith began to scream. Six weeks after being led away, Edith found her father wandering in the town's square. He was bloody, swollen all over from beatings with a rubber truncheon, and suffering from broken bones. Fearing further violence, the family began planning their escape to safety.


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