Ilona “Irene” Rosenschein was 22 years old when she was forced by Nazis to leave her childhood home in Czechoslovakia. She was a survivor of the Holocaust who passed away in 2018, and an active educator of the Boulder community. To honor her legacy, Larry Cohn established a fund to honor Irene and her contribution to Holocaust education in the Boulder Community.
“As the final survivors of the Holocaust leave us, it’s really important to keep the discussion going,” said Boulder Jewish Community Center Director Jonathan Lev of the lecture series.
The lecture this year will be held on Sunday, October 15 and will feature Beth Cohen. Dr. Beth Cohen received a Ph.D. in Holocaust history from Clark University, an M.Ed. in psychology from Harvard University, and a B.A. in psychology from Adelphi University. During her fellowship at the US Holocaust Memorial and Museum, she was Lecturer at the Strassler Family Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies at Clark University.
Her talk will center around child survivors of the Holocaust. We asked her a few questions in preparation for her visit next month.
How did you come to choose Child Survivors as your research topic?
My first book, Case Closed was about the complex reception of adult survivors by the American Jewish community. In it I had a chapter on orphan survivors. In the process of doing research on orphans, I realized that the experience of children was vastly different from that of adults. Not only that, the voices of child survivors had also been largely overlooked. My ten years of research that culminated in Child Survivors of the Holocaust: the Youngest Remnant and the American Experience addresses that gap in the historical record.
Was there a particular person or story that sticks with you?
In the course of interviewing and studying testimonies of hundreds, many, many stand out. I’ll tell you about one. My friend, Shep, spent two years living with his extended family of seven in a pit in the forests of Lithuania. It is an extraordinary story not only because 90% of Lithuanian Jewry was murdered but also because the entire family survived, intact. While living in a pit, his father, a rabbi, created a little booklet to mark the Jewish calendar that Shep treasures to this day. Shep told me that every year at Passover when he reads the Haggadah, and recites the plagues, he remembers his time in the pit.
Is there something we can do in our community to continue to support the Child Survivor generation?
They are the last living witnesses to the Holocaust. Listen to them. Acknowledge them. Visit them. Help those living in poverty. If they have not given their testimony, the USC Shoah Foundation has a “Last Chance Initiative” that is now taking testimonies. Encourage them to do so.
All Boulder JCC programs are open to everyone of all or no religious affiliation. You do not need to be Jewish to participate. There is also no membership requirement to participate in Boulder JCC programs.
The program will begin with a pre-talk social from 10:30-11 am with coffee and pastries. The talk will begin at 11 am.
This program is free. However, advance registration is always recommended for programs at the Boulder JCC. Using a computer rather than your mobile device will make the registration process easier for you. For registration support call 303-998-1900 or contact Acy Jackson email@example.com.
If you can not attend in person please register for the Livestream option.
If you would like to support the Holocaust Education Fund, you can make a donation here. (Please indicate in the notes that it is for this fund).