3rd Generation Assumes Mantle of Preserving Survivors’ Stories
  • Holocaust
  • JFCS in the News
  • Volunteers

J Weekly

By Rob Gloster

Berta Kohut endured more than 1,000 days at Auschwitz. She suffered through transfers to Ravensbruck concentration camp and the Birkenau death camp.

Having somehow survived and started a family back in her native Czechoslovakia, the last thing she wanted to do was tell her two sons about those horrors. But when her seven grandchildren were old enough to understand, she shared her Holocaust nightmares.

senior with grandchild

“When I was growing up, it was a taboo subject in our family. My father protected her from talking about it,” said her son, Tom Areton. “It’s easier for her to talk to the grandchildren.”

For many grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, their bonds with saba and savta are based in part on those shared accounts — the same ones that were too raw for the survivors to tell their own children. The passage of time, and the realization that their stories might die with them, often made it easier for them to open up as they aged.

The grandkids, recognizing that special relationship and wanting to share such stories with their peers, have in several large U.S. cities created 3G groups — so named because they’re the third generation. In San Francisco, 3gSF was created in 2013 through the Holocaust Center at Jewish Family and Children’s Services.

Read the full story here >

Posted by Admin on April 19, 2017
Survivors bring history to life for students hungry for learning
  • Education
  • Holocaust
  • JFCS in the News
  • Youth

J Weekly

By Carly Nairn

While most high school students wouldn’t choose to spend their weekends inside a classroom, Piedmont High School senior Danny DeBare did. The Jewish teen, along with hundreds of his peers, gathered last Sunday at a San Francisco high school to bring Jewish history into focus.

Holocaust Survivor with Student

“Participation is everything to get the full effect of learning the history,” said DeBare.

Now in its 15th year, the Day of Learning, organized by the JFCS Holocaust Center, brought together Holocaust survivors in the Bay Area and 750 students and educators from schools in the region — from as far away as Modesto — to listen, engage and learn about the past and how its lessons apply to the future.

Read the full article here >

Posted by Admin on March 23, 2017
Holocaust program pairs survivors with Palo Alto teens
  • Education
  • Holocaust
  • JFCS in the News
  • Youth

The Mercury News

By Jacqueline Lee

It was her mother’s intuition that spared Denise Elbert from the gas chambers during the Jewish Holocaust in World War II.

Samantha Alvarez and Denise Elbert

Elbert was 9 months old in 1942 when she boarded a train headed for Sobibor with her mom and dad. Young Jewish Slovakian families, like the Elberts, had been told they were needed to help build a major German city, and locals lined the platform to see them off.

When Elbert’s mother spotted a good childhood friend, she decided to ask the friend to care for her daughter until the couple got settled in the new city.

None of the Jewish families knew then that Sobibor was a death camp.

“I think it was pure instinct,” Elbert said, “and that saved me.”

Elbert, 75, of Sunnyvale, knows her story is unique in that she is one of the younger survivors of the Holocaust.

Because of this, she willingly shares her story with young people through the Holocaust Center’s Next Chapter program, which pairs survivors with teens and regularly engages in a speaker series.

Read the full article at The Mercury News >

Posted by Admin on January 5, 2017
Sonoma County students learn about bigotry, hatred through a Holocaust lens
  • Education
  • Holocaust
  • JFCS in the News

The Press Democrat

By Christi Warren

Several generations have come and gone since May 1945 when the last prisoners were liberated from the Nazi concentration camps of World War II.

The Holocaust today feels far away, especially for youth increasingly separated from not only the harsh realities of a world at war, but the scope of Germany’s campaign of genocide.

For years, Jewish groups have worked to bring Holocaust survivors into classrooms to discuss their time in the camps, to tell their stories. But that population is quickly dwindling — fewer than 100,000 survivors remain — which is what sparked the effort to bring Bay Area students together for a program created by the Jewish Family and Children’s Services Holocaust Center in San Francisco called “the Big Read.”

Read the full article at The Press Democrat >

Posted by Admin on December 20, 2016
Students connect to Holocaust lesson
  • Education
  • Holocaust
  • JFCS in the News

San Francisco Chronicle

By Filipa A. Ioannou

At Francisco Middle School in San Francisco’s North Beach, more than 80 percent of the students speak a language other than English at home — and they were quick to pick up on the talk about immigration during the recent presidential debates.

“There’s a total undercurrent of fear here for our particular students,” says Marna Blanchard, a social studies teacher at Francisco, where students’ other languages include Spanish, Cantonese, Mandarin and Korean.

Mona with student

Concert pianist Mona Golabek greets student at performance of Children of Willesden Lane, part of the Bay Area Big Read    Photo credit: Lea Suzuki

The complicated emotions students feel as they observe current events — from President-elect Donald Trump’s vow to build a border wall to the Syrian refugee crisis in Europe — have led some to connect deeply with their learning materials as they study the Holocaust.

As part of “The Big Read,” a program launched by the Jewish Family and Children’s Services Holocaust Center this fall, 7,000 Bay Area students read a book about the life of Lisa Jura, a 14-year-old girl who fled Nazi-occupied Vienna in 1938.

Read the full story at the San Francisco Chronicle >

Posted by Admin on November 21, 2016