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The Margaret Tietz Nursing and Rehabilitation Center hosted an annual memorial service for Yom HaShoah this past Thursday, April 28. The Remembrance Day for Jewish Martyrdom and Heroism included the participation of residents, rabbis,
elected officials, and survivors of Nazi brutality.
The program began with a convening by Rabbi Dr. Richard Weiss, mara d’asra of the Young Israel of Hillcrest, and continued with a Keil Malei Rachamim, the prayer for the souls of the departed, led by Rabbi Mayer Waxman, Executive Director of the
Queens Jewish Community Council. Rabbi Weiss led the service commencement, delivered inspirational words, and orated the Kaddish memorial prayer.
Quoting from Witness: Voices from the Holocaust, Rabbi Weiss described Christa M.’s account of a rabbi being tortured. “She saw Nazis humiliating a rabbi on the streets of the city, forcing him to beat a drum and chant, ‘I am a filthy Jew!’ In school she was taught to see Jews as left unhuman, dangerous to children, and the cause of all woes. After the war, she felt she could no longer remain in Germany and immigrated to Paris, then to the United States. In 1985, she returned. ‘It was all the same stuff. Nothing had changed.’”
Guest speaker Benjamin Pinczewski, Esq. passionately shared the story of his parents, who lived under heavy anti-Semitism in Poland. The couple was the first of many weddings to be held post-liberation. Pinczewski’s mother came from Sosnowiec, Poland, and was 14 at the onset of the war. Her father, a kosher butcher, was an easy target for the Germans and was immediately eliminated. His father experienced terrible anti-Semitism in the Polish army and was taken prisoner by the Russians and exiled to Siberia. After escaping to Poland, he winded up in the Blechhammer camp, the second-largest Auschwitz subcamp, where he met
Pinczewski’s mother, 12 years his junior. She stuck out as catch when he refused food that she had given him. “Be here a bit and you will be begging for this.” She had been transferred and he eventually got a note to her via the underground. She replied that they needed shoes and he arranged for this delivery. A note replying that the shoes arrived was intercepted by the Nazis. Under questioning, she told the guards that the man had a crush on her and wanted to look good in her eyes. They both survived the ordeal.
Rabbi Waxman concluded the service with a rendition of Ani Maamin and HaTikvah.
While the event decried the tortured flesh of our Jewish brothers and sisters, the
attendees noted how our spirit and faith are resolute.