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Holocaust survivors share message of hope during Hanukkah



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BERLIN – Holocaust survivors from around the world are marking the third day of Hanukkah with a virtual ceremony as Jews worldwide worry about a sharp increase Anti-Semitism in Europe, America and other places.

Several dozen survivors will also gather in person on Tuesday to light the menorah at Jerusalem’s Western Wall – the holiest place Jews can pray – to pay their respects to 6 million Jews. Europe was killed by the Nazis during the Holocaust.

“As anti-Semitism rose around the world and hate once again becomes a normalized language During the day, survivors remind us of the importance of hope,” said Gideon Taylor, president of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany. The New York-based Claims Conference is hosting both events to follow the International Holocaust Survivors Night.

“During the Holocaust, they did not give up. And after the war, they fought to make new lives for themselves and continued to speak and educate, all in the hope that their testimony would triumph over hate,” he added.

The virtual event, starting Tuesday at 18:30 GMT (1:30 p.m. EST) includes musical performances and messages from Holocaust survivors evacuated from the war in Ukraine as well as survivors from more than a dozen other countries. Jewish celebrities such as singer Barbra Streisand and actor Jason Alexander from the TV series “Seinfeld” will also speak, along with Israeli President Isaac Herzog and the German chancellor. Olaf Scholz.

“Shoah was the darkest time,” said Scholz, using the Hebrew word for the Holocaust. “Together with the Shoah survivors, we remember the untold suffering and the millions of victims of this betrayal of all the civilized values ​​for which the German people are responsible.”

Scholz added that the power of survivors to carry on and keep their memories alive and impressive is for many, adding that their example is needed today.

“We definitely need hope – especially right now. Russian bomb and missile terrorism is endangering the lives and freedoms of Ukrainians. Holocaust survivors are also in danger, which is truly shocking,” Scholz said, adding that “the fact that some of them are now seek refuge in Germany is very humbling for us.

Alla Sinelnikova, a Holocaust survivor who was just evacuated from Ukraine to Germany, said hope more than anything helped her overcome life’s difficulties.

Sinelnikova, 90, who plans to take part in the Claims Conference online event, said: “I have lived in the world for a very long time and thanks to hope we have only survived by some. “Because otherwise you can’t live without hope.”

Since 2017, the International Holocaust Survivors Night has been held annually during Hanukkah, also known as the Jewish Festival of Lights.

While in the past, survivors would gather in person for celebrations in Israel, the US and Germany, this event has moved online throughout. Coronavirus pandemic, making it accessible to survivors spread across the globe. As they get older and weaker, many say they find it easier to attend events online, so the Claims Conference decided to continue that option this year as well.

About 250,000 survivors are still alive, living in Europe, Israel, the US and elsewhere. About 200,000 have received some form of financial assistance this year from the Conference of Claims.

In his message to survivors, famed Nazi hunter Serge Klarsfeld called Hanukkah “a wonderful reminder to think about the hope we all carry.”

“It was that hope that got me through the Holocaust, fueled my cause of bringing the Nazis to justice, and it is that hope that I carry with me today as I witness so many anti-Semitism and hatred in the world,” Klarsfeld said.

“We can all be beacons of hope — light in the dark.”

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