Almost forty years ago the survivors, needing a place where they could remember and memorialize family members lost during the Holocaust, created a memorial courtyard at the JCC Central Courtyard with the names of their loved ones on bronze plaques. At the same time they began sharing their family history and the stories of how they escaped from Hitler’s grasp, and the genocide in which two out of every three Jews living in Europe were murdered.
In May 2014 the Rochester Holocaust Survivors Committee was established at the Louis S. Wolk Jewish Community Center to honor the survivors by inscribing their names on additional bronze plaques in the memorial courtyard as a means to recognize their courage and strength to build new lives and families and to contribute their talents to the Rochester community. Working with Bonnie Abrams, the director of CHAI, the Committee’s vision expanded to include an educational component providing the legacy of their experiences to future generations on a website.
We are grateful to the survivors who have come forward to videotape their stories and to their families who have contributed to the information in this archive. Countless volunteers have acted as interviewers and writers. They include educators and their students, professional writers, lawyers, social workers and others who have come forward to complete this archive.
Although many people have given generously of their time and ability, volunteers are still needed to help the archive evolve and grow. There are still names of people whose stories, or even photographs, we do not have. If you know something, say something. The Nazis attempted not only to exterminate the Jews as a nation but also to remove all traces of their individuality as well. Help us to honor our local survivors and restore their identities as we help bring their experiences back to life.