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A Survivor's Reflection

By Joyce R. Forchion - LOVE Aventura

March 21, 2024

Holocaust Survivor Zoltan “Saul” Blau Recounts History At Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center. “I am here because I know a little bit about Antisemitism, and also a little bit about Auschwitz because I was there at age 13. Not a visitor. I was a prisoner there.”

To recognize International Holocaust Remembrance Day, hundreds of students from Don Soffer Aventura High School expeditiously filed into the Aventura Turnberry Jewish Center on Thursday, January 25th, 2024 to listen to first-hand accounts from Zoltan “Saul” Blau, one of the remaining Holocaust survivors of German-Occupied Poland’s Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi Concentration Camp.

Much like the Serial Number: A-3913 that remains emblazoned on his arm, the evocative personal reflections of the 92-year-old Aventura Resident were also brought to life while he recounted the dire conditions and terrifying imprisonment he endured back in 1944, painting a mental picture of helpless vulnerability and raw trepidation. Upon arrival at the Camp, he described his immediate separation from his parents and younger sister – who lost their lives shortly after entering the facility– and his imminent fight for survival as a child coal miner until the moment he was liberated by the U.S. Armed Forces in 1945.

Though Remembrance Day is globally acknowledged on January 27th – which marked the 79-Year Anniversary of the Historic Liberation of the Concentration Camp – students in attendance listened intently about the deplorable, paralyzingly uncertain environment in which Saul lived. Despite the nature of his past, he concluded his presentation by emphasizing the significance of sharing authentic stories with diverse groups in hopes of building bridges promoting inclusivity while offering universal opportunities to learn about human nature so as not to repeat past afflictions.

Over 6 million Jewish men and women were victimized by the Holocaust, not to mention millions more who were persecuted by the Nazis. Though many would agree that Antisemitism existed beneath the surface for decades since the Holocaust, instances of Hate and Discrimination against the Jewish Community have been rising at alarming rates. Now more than ever before, we must recognize the critical lessons brought forth by the Holocaust as we commemorate the victims and honor the survivors.

Aventura city leaders are committed to acknowledging the intergenerational effects of the Holocaust by teaching the community about the truth, and bringing authentic, individual voices to the forefront who can shed light on current events shaping the future. Program organizers ended the Remembrance Day event by reading the names of Holocaust Victims, recognizing their memory with a moment of silence and symbolizing their presence by ceremoniously lighting candles. While acts of Dehumanization and Hate still affect our surrounding communities each day, it is up to each of us to confront such instances with intolerance, propose solutions to accept each other’s differences, and provide education to accurately remember world issues that have shaped the evolution of humanity.

A column celebrating the heart, soul and culture of our community.

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