Holocaust Survivors Observed Romanian Holocaust Remembrance Day
WEST ORANGE, NJ - A group of Holocaust survivors from Romania and their families observed Romanian Holocaust Remembrance Day on Friday. The group continues the rituals and traditions formed while being in a concentration camp during World War II. It has been more than 70 years since Transnistria concentration camp, situated between the Dniester River in Romania and the border with Ukraine, was liberated by the Soviets at the end of the war, but the Holocaust survivors cannot forget the time they spent in the camp. Speaking to one survivor, The Essex Times learnt about the horrible conditions these people had to live in, with scarce food, poor sanitary conditions, and no change of clothing. Most of the survivors spent 3 years or more in the camp. Hunger, exhaustion and typhus were the main causes of death. More than half a million Romanian Jews were murdered during the Holocaust. Out of 300 children sent to the Transnistria concentration camp, only 3 survived the horror. Among those 3 children is Zeev Hershkowitz, a native Romanian who was taken to the camp when he was only 7 years old. Mr. Hershkowitz was released from the camp when he was 10 years old. In an interview to The Essex Times, Mr. Hershkowitz recalled the rituals in the camp, even under the terrifying conditions and the slaved labor. "The adults were forced to work from 6 in the morning till 6 in the evening every day, but we made every effort to keep our Jewish identity and celebrate some of the holiday" says Hershkowitz, "I remember making the matzo for Passover, with the little bread my mother was given and lighting a candle for Hanukkah made of a string with some wax someone stole from the Nazis". After 70 years, Mr. Hershkowitz and a group of other survivors are continuing the traditions they developed while being the in the camp and teach them to their children and grandchildren. "This is part of who we are", says Judith Shulman, a daughter of a Holocaust survivor who passed away in 2012, "my father always told me that the Holocaust is the event that shaped his identity as a Jew and his biggest revenge for what the Nazis did to him was to continue the traditions developed under the impossible conditions under which they lived". The group is looking now to formalize their identity as Romanian Holocaust survivors.