Monday, October 26, 2009

Phoenix Holocaust Survivor’s Association Celebrates 25 Years

Pictured, Second Generation Holocaust Survivor, Joan Sitva, incoming president, of the Phoenix Holocaust Survivors Association with founder and honorary board member, Holocaust Survivor, Carl OFisher.

Last night the Phoenix Holocaust Survivor’s Association celebrated their 25th year anniversary. Many of the group’s one hundred Holocaust Survivors were in attendance including founding members Carl O’Fisher and Harry Adler, now honorary members of the board. Second generation leader Joan Sitva was nominated as the incoming president as Judy Searle stepped down after 3 years.

As a surprise to Survivor members, after dinner, students from various local schools showed up to join the adults for desert. Then, local Anti Defamation League representative, and Director of the Braun Holocaust Institute-Glick Center for Holocaust Studies and PHSA member Paul Wieser called the students to the podium to thank them and point out the significance of their attendance, to carry out the legacy of the group. The students then passed out commemorative pins to Survivors and guests. This legacy of teaching acceptance, of course, is the one of the most important contributions of the group.

Finally, a ten minute short film, We Chose Life, was shown to the group. We had been asked by the group to make this film back in the spring. After numerous hours of reviewing Yom HaShoah tapes from past years, videotaping the past two dinner meetings, called CafĂ© Europas, as well as visiting Carl and Harry’s homes for personal interviews, and making a fruitless visit to the local newspaper for archival photographs; we finally edited the footage down to showcase as many of the Survivor members and board members as we could. The film celebrates the lives and accomplishments of our members – their children, books, professions, and friendships that they shared over the years, as well as highlighting their contributions to the community by holding an annual Yom Hashoah service and regularly speaking to local schools. We will plan to post the short on the Internet soon.

Our friend, second generation Survivor, artist Robert Sutz celebrated his 80th birthday and showed pictures of the numerous life masks he’s created of over 50 Survivors. And one of our members who attended, Regina Blank of Surprise, Arizona, was honored as she is over one hundred years old. She told us that she hid in the woods during the Holocaust. Her family told us that on her hundredth birthday she vowed to live until she's one hundred and ten years old. Now, that's a Survivor.

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