Friday, March 1

Event held in Boca Raton honors 315 Holocaust survivors

Over 300 Holocaust survivors from different countries were in one room to celebrate the gift of life with music and to meet others who shared similar experiences.

The event was held Tuesday at Bnai Torah Congregation in Boca Raton.

The event was started 25 years ago by Jill Viner, whose mother and maternal grandparents were Holocaust survivors. She organized the banquet as a way to honor them and to keep their memory alive.

In this climate its very important, so people know, yes, it did exist. It wasnt a fantasy. It wasnt miswritten for all the deniers,” Jill Viner said. “So, I think its very important because we have the truth, here we have the survivors.

Jill Viner was happy to be accompanied by her two daughters, Elyse Cromer and Amanda Viner, who share the same pride as their mother with their heritage.

This has the potential to be a very solemn event and really, it is a celebration, Cromer said.

There were survivors from Germany, Bulgaria, Poland, Czechoslovakia, Ukraine and Romania. Some were from orphanages, some were in hiding and some were even saved from the concentration camps.

A few of the survivors had not seen each other since they were children and were reunited at this event.

Four survivors were reunited from two different orphanages that were right next to each other in France. It was not until someone asked, is anyone here from an orphanage in France, that the four stepped forward and reconnected.

Although this event does get smaller each year, this does not dim their light.

Theyre getting older and the numbers are diminishing. But the joy that is in their face, and the way they get dressed up, that continues, non stop, Jill Viner said. Their flame continues, they’re so happy to do this.

A klezmer band, which plays traditional Jewish music, could be heard ringing through the synagogue. Viner said music unites these survivors.

Theres music and life and it wasnt lost in the concentration camps. Their spirit wasnt lost with all their sufferings, meaning they lost family, loved ones, theyve had to come and start a new life, Jill Viner said. But their spirit in them when they hear music, it just makes everything joyful and alive.

This event has been held for over two decades and Jill Viner said it will continue as long as she is alive.

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