Letter from Marc Hopin, CEO Alpert Jewish Family Service
Today, January 27, 2020, is the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. Auschwitz, located in Poland, was the largest concentration camp constructed by Nazi Germany. Studies estimate that 1.3 million people were deported to Auschwitz, where the Nazis murdered 1.1 million of them. There were only 7,000 people in Auschwitz when the Russian army arrived because, in the weeks before the liberation, the Germans forced 60,000 prisoners to march 66 miles west to the city of Wodzislaw, shooting those that could not keep pace with the pack.
On this historic day, Ferd & Gladys Alpert Jewish Family Service hosted a ceremony attended by three survivors of the Nazi atrocities of Auschwitz. It is the strength, resilience, and generosity of the spirit of these three survivors, and of all survivors, that has enabled them to reach this day. They persevered against an incredible evil, carried the trauma of this tragedy with them for the next 75 years, and yet they continue to live and to teach us to never forget.
At the 50th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz, Auschwitz survivor Ellie Wiesel said, “After Auschwitz, the human condition is not the same, nothing will be the same.” While true, some things never change. Antisemitism lives on, and in some parts of the world, thrives. Education, awareness of threats, and constant vigilance are required to prevent another Holocaust.
Over our 46 years, Alpert Jewish Family Service has helped thousands of Holocaust survivors. We have heard each of their stories of survival, liberation, and how the trauma of their experience has affected their lives after liberation. As the survivor speaks, they express a range of emotions from anger to horror to sadness to relief to hopelessness. Tears flow, both from the survivor and from our care manager that is taking notes.
Nearly three hundred Holocaust survivors are currently receiving services from Alpert Jewish Family Service. Another agency in Palm Beach County, Ruth and Norman Rales Jewish Family Services, cares for almost 400 survivors. It is our honor and sacred responsibility to help survivors age with dignity and with the care they need to maximize their independence for as long as possible. We will continue to do so until the last one has passed from our county.
We mourn the six million that died during the Holocaust, and for an easing of the painful memories carried by those that survived.
Marc D. Hopin, CEO
Ferd and Gladys Alpert Jewish Family Service