This June 4th, Jewish Federations are joining communities across the globe to observe the third annual Holocaust Survivor Day, a grassroots initiative founded by the JCC Krakow to recognize the contributions that survivors have made to society and to honor their legacies. Where International Holocaust Remembrance Day and Yom HaShoah focus on the lives of those who perished, Holocaust Survivor Day celebrates the accomplishments of survivors and the ways they enrich humanity every day.
"JCC Krakow created Holocaust Survivor Day to celebrate the lives the survivors built after experiencing the horrors of the Holocaust,” said JCC Krakow Executive Director Jonathan Ornstein. “A day to honor them and thank them for what they did, not what was done to them. Survivors are our treasure and our heroes, living reminders of the strength of the Jewish spirit to rise above evil and maintain its humanity."
“On Holocaust Survivor Day, we honor the courage and resilience of those who survived the unimaginable,” said President and co-Founder of Seed the Dream Foundation Marcy Gringlas. “My parents were both survivors. My father survived Auschwitz and my mother was a hidden child. After liberation, they struggled and were successful in creating life, living life, loving life. They, like all Holocaust Survivors, embody the spirit of resilience and hope. As we mark Holocaust Survivor Day, we must honor and support Survivors who are still here among us. They are our heroes. They are our teachers. They are our inspiration.”
“Holocaust survivors are our teachers and heroes and they have contributed so much to enrich our lives,” agreed Shelley Rood Wernick, granddaughter of Holocaust survivors and Managing Director of the Center on Holocaust Survivor Care and Institute on Aging and Trauma at Jewish Federations of North America. “Though Jewish Federations are committed to Holocaust survivor care every day of the year, Holocaust Survivor Day is a special opportunity to recognize survivors for their contributions to our lives and to honor their legacies.”
Communities are celebrating the legacy and courage of survivors at events around the world: from Philadelphia to Jerusalem, from New York to Sydney, from Chicago to Krakow, and from Palm Beach to Los Angeles. This year, UJA-Federation New York extends its gratitude to Mayor Adams for hosting over 40 survivors for Holocaust Survivor Day at Gracie Mansion, for the first time ever. Events in the United States are spearheaded by KAVOD SHEF (Survivors of the Holocaust Emergency Fund) communities, with support from Seed the Dream Foundation.
Organizations leading Holocaust Survivor Day include JCC Krakow, Seed the Dream Foundation, Jewish Federations of North America, World Zionist Organization, and UJA-Federation of New York, along with 60 International Organizational Partners.
Survivors enrich our communities and inspire the world with their resilience and strength. Yet, an astonishing 35% of survivors in the U.S. live in poverty. Jewish Federations support thousands of survivors annually through their Center on Holocaust Survivor Care and Institute on Aging and Trauma, as well as through partnerships with KAVOD SHEF.
Acknowledging Jewish Federations’ profound impact, the federal government has empowered Jewish Federations to be the national resource center on aging and trauma and has highlighted our approach as a model for serving all older adults and family caregivers. Last year, the federal government budgeted a record $8.5 million for its Holocaust Survivor Assistance Program. Jewish Federations are advocating to increase the program to $10 million.