Holocaust Survivor Zahava Rendler Speaks at Israel Solidarity Event

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As we continue to watch the horrifically tragic events unfold in Israel, The Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center is committed to and educational approach that centers the stories and lived experiences of our community of Holocaust survivors. Consistent with that philosophy, we are sharing remarks by Zahava Rendler, a Holocaust survivor and Israeli citizen, who shared them with a crowd of more than a thousand people at a Jewish community solidarity gathering last night.

In the past few days, we have also heard from our community of educators and museum guests looking for information and context to better understand what is happening. Our partners at the Jewish Federation of Cincinnati have established this landing page with updates and other resources. For educators wishing to understand this issue, Classrooms Without Borders is providing resources, including a webinar at 2 p.m. today with their Scholar in Residence, Avi Ben-Hur, that you can register for here.

Our partners at Jewish Family Service have also recommended the following resources:

Here are the remarks Zahava shared.

My name is Zahava Feuerberg Rendler, and I am a Holocaust survivor. As an Israeli citizen, I can say this is the darkest time in our nation’s history.

Over the past four days I have found myself reliving my past.

I was just a baby, 9 months old, when my family and I went into hiding in an underground bunker. I started my life in darkness, constant cold, and silence – people were only able to speak in whispers. My parents had to give me sleeping pills to keep me quiet so we could survive.

I don’t want my past to be the future of my grandchildren. But it suddenly feels here and now.

Young people gunned down at a music festival. Toddlers and grandparents kidnapped and taken hostage in broad daylight. Men and women shot dead as they waited for busses and walked their dogs, in front of their children.

What was their crime? Being Jewish?

Never in one day have so many Jews been killed since the Holocaust. And in my beloved Israel, the place that gave me life.

The Nazis tried to take away my identity. But Israel restored it. I was only 5 when I arrived there. I was young, but I knew enough to know that I did not need to be afraid. This is a country that wanted me. That held my hand. That gave me pride in being a Jew.

To all the Israelis here in our community—I want you to know—we are here with you. Your sorrow is our sorrow. Your fear is our fear. And your hope is our hope.

Yes, even in this darkness, there is hope to be found.

Hope because we may come from different places and may express Jewishness in different ways but we are unified in our vision to build a flourishing diverse Jewish community for future generations.

Hope because just as we mourn, there are other mothers who cry when they lose their children.

Hope because we have made it through dark times before. And we will again.

When I was little, my father would say—tomorrow, my Shayna punim, you will see the sun will shine.

Look at the hope he had after all he had been through.

My belief is that tomorrow the sun will shine again on my home, our home, the great state of Israel.

I will leave you with a verse from the Prophet Isaiah, which continues to bring me hope. It describes a vision:

“The wolf will lie down with the lamb. And a child will lead them.”

With God’s help, this vision will come true for us, one day.

Am Yisrael Chai. We are here to stay. The people of Israel live.

Thank you.

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The Nancy & David Wolf Holocaust & Humanity Center exists to ensure the lessons of the Holocaust inspire action today. Located at Cincinnati’s historic Union Terminal, HHC impacts more than 2.5 million people every year through digital and in-person events, museum tours, educational experiences, social media, and virtual content. From Australia to India, individuals from more than 25 countries and 30 states engage with our mission. For more information, visit www.holocaustandhumanity.org