by Kaitlin Lertora
I was lucky enough to meet one of the survivors of the Holocaust, Phil Goldstein, when I was in my early teenage years. My grandfather was Jewish and he was the one to introduce me to Goldstein, a concentration camp survivor during the 1940s.
When Goldstein and his brother had been sent to Auschwitz, they were separated and put into two different lines. The line his brother was thrown into was sent directly to the gas chambers; however, Goldstein was instead sent to a work camp. Upon our meeting years ago, I noticed that Goldstein still had the tattooed identification number on his inner right arm and that he had plenty of abhorrent stories to tell. He told my family and I about the brutal physical torture he endured as well as some of the inhumane treatment he witnessed.
Today, the events from the Holocaust still haunt people and are used as history lessons in humanity. Fortunately today, many people are accepting of the Jewish culture and are no longer afraid to identify as such. Millions of people worldwide embrace being Jewish and identify it as their religion and their culture or just as one or the other.
RC Senior Stephanie Spector has had a chance in the past to visit Israel.
Spector said, “I went to Israel on birthright which is when the country pays for Jewish people between the ages of 18 and 26 to take a trip to Israel for free in order to explore their heritage.”
She explained how her group went to the Holocaust Museum, Kibbutz, which was a farm where they grew their own food, the Sea of Galilee, Tel Aviv, and the Old City of Jerusalem. Spector noted that although parts of Israel have become commercialized and seem generally safe, the relationship between some of the Israelis and Palestinians is still rocky and violence is somewhat present.
“Members of the IDF (Israel Defense Forces) traveled with us in order to ensure our safety,” said Spector. One interesting point Spector made which differentiates Israel from other countries, is that both women and men of Israel are obligated to serve in the Defense Forces for two to three years before going on to college.
Nazis treated the Jews as if they were objects, using them and throwing them away as if they were easily replaceable. Because of Hitler’s reign, Nazis neglected Jewish people’s rights and privileges cumulating in the massacre of between five and six million Jews. This genocide impacted the rest of the world and will continue to do so for centuries to come.