Sun Sentinel Palm Beach Edition

Holocaust survivors bring history to life

Students host lunch for 90 special guests

- By Brittany Shammas Staff writer

History came to life Thursday for a group of Broward County high schoolers who spent the afternoon listening to the stories of Holocaust survivors.

After months of studying the history and literature of the Holocaust, the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High juniors and seniors hosted a luncheon for 90 men and women who lived it. There were tears, photograph­s and hugs — lots of hugs.

“You read about people, but normally you don’t get to meet them,” said Kira Parandjuk, 17. “It’s more human than looking at numbers. It puts a face to it.”

The students, who are in a Holocaust elective at school, sold chocolate bars to raise about $1,400 for the event at the Kings Point Clubhouse in Tamarac. They set out chicken salad, bagels and coffee. put together goody bags, played the piano and ran a raffle. Their guests were impressed. “I feel like I want to cry when I talk about the young people because I’m so happy,” said Ray Berman, 88. “Young people being involved in doing things for other people makes me very happy.”

This is the second year the class has put on a luncheon for survivors. The timing for this year’s event — the eve of Passover — was perfect, said teacher Donna Amelkin.

She said she thinks the experience has a profound impact on students, especially because so many of the survivors went on to lead lives brimming with accomplish­ments.

“We want students to see that in the face of really horrible circumstan­ces, you have a choice in every-

you do,” Amelkin said.

At tables across the room, students gathered around survivors, riveted. The survivors, most of whom were children during the Holocaust, described leaving their homes, hiding from Nazi soldiers and losing family members.

One was rescued through Kindertran­sport, a rescue effort that took Jewish children to safety in the United Kingdom. Another was hidden by Franciscan nuns. Many seemed eager to share their experience­s.

“Even with some telling you stories, they tear up but they keep going,” said Jenna Talisman, 17.

When it was time to go, survivors embraced students and kissed them on the cheeks. One couple, Mariya and Joseph Soroka, huddled with a group of teenagers and thanked them again and again.

“We appreciate your care, we appreciate your at tention to us,” Mariya Soroka said, “and we are wishing you to live in peace every day.”

 ?? SUSAN STOCKER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPH­ER ?? Brittany Bolger, 18, and Danielle Levy, 18, both students at Stoneman Douglas High, comfort Lili Gaier, 88, as she recalls how she survived the Holocaust. Students raised funds to host a luncheon for 90 survivors.
SUSAN STOCKER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPH­ER Brittany Bolger, 18, and Danielle Levy, 18, both students at Stoneman Douglas High, comfort Lili Gaier, 88, as she recalls how she survived the Holocaust. Students raised funds to host a luncheon for 90 survivors.
 ?? PHOTOS BY SUSAN STOCKER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPH­ER ?? Holocaust survivors Mariya and Joseph Soroka embrace Stoneman Douglas High student Gabby Mayor, 18, and her classmates as they thank the students for hosting a luncheon.
PHOTOS BY SUSAN STOCKER/STAFF PHOTOGRAPH­ER Holocaust survivors Mariya and Joseph Soroka embrace Stoneman Douglas High student Gabby Mayor, 18, and her classmates as they thank the students for hosting a luncheon.
 ??  ?? Matthew Deitsch, Safiyyah Mir and Keara Clancy, all seniors at Stoneman Douglas High, listen as Irene Rogers, 80, tells them how she survived the Holocaust.
Matthew Deitsch, Safiyyah Mir and Keara Clancy, all seniors at Stoneman Douglas High, listen as Irene Rogers, 80, tells them how she survived the Holocaust.

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