SOUTH ORANGE/MAPLEWOOD, NJ — Holocaust survivors, family and friends told stories of survival, losing relatives and finding some decades later during yesterday's Remember and Tell SOMA Interfaith Holocaust Service.
It was started in 1977 and is the longest-running such service in New Jersey. This year's service was prerecorded at people's homes and houses of worship. Some 200 people watched live on YouTube as religious leaders of several faiths gave messages to remember the Holocaust, and also a call to action to pay attention to all the hate currently affecting our world.
“Allah, God Almighty, today as we remember millions who were murdered during the Holocaust, we still continue to see violence throughout the world being justified in the name of radical ideologies,” said Brother Ashraf Latif of the NIA Masjid and Community Center. “We pray and ask you to bless us with the ability, even during this pandemic, to be able to see how the world is intertwined and interconnected and how interconnected we all are.”
Several local Holocaust survivors told their journey of survival. Here is the story told by Paulette Korssia Wolfe Dorflaufer, who grew up in South Orange, at 30:30 in the recording below.
“I was one of 10 siblings, and I was born in Marseilles, France on May 8, 1943. My father was taken by the Nazis in January of 1933, was gassed in March at Sobibor. In 1944, when I was an infant. My mother and five of my siblings were rounded up by the Nazis and went to Auschwitz. While hospitalized at the age of one, a [member of the] Gestapo came looking for me and tried to take me away. I was rescued by a heroic nurse who claimed that I was her child. My sister fortunately put me in an orphanage...in 1945. Fortunately, I was eventually adopted by the Wolfe family from South Orange, New Jersey, at the age of four and a half. My birth father, mother and five siblings perished in the Holocaust. In 1971, I discovered that I had three surviving siblings and an extended family living in France. I traveled to France in 1972 and was reunited with my two sisters and my brother. I now reside in West Orange, New Jersey, and have three children and seven grandchildren.”
Fred Heyman was awarded the Sister Rose Thering Holocaust Education Award for his work in making sure the next generation knows his story and the history of the Holocaust; he has twinned with dozens of bnai mitzvah students, teaching them personally the importance of carrying a Holocaust story into the next generation.
Cantor Erica Lippitz of Oheb Shalom Congregation in South Orange won the 2021 Sister Rose Thering Holocaust Education Award. Lippitz remembered Sister Rose, a former professor at Seton Hall University who worked toward better Jewish-Christian relations and died in 2006, fondly; she said Sister Rose would pray in the congregation every Yom Kippur, sitting in the first row. “She taught us by example to channel devotion into compassion and courage.”
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