At a well-attended service sponsored by the Montclair Clergy Association at Congregation Shomrei Emunah in Montclair, Holocaust survivor Ruth Ravina told chilling tales of her imprisonment in the concentration camps in Poland. Ravina actually “broke into” a concentration camp in order to be with her mother. A family friend bribed a Polish guard and helped dig a hole under the fence. Her mother hid her inside her knapsack during morning roll calls. The camp was a munitions camp for the Nazi war effort.
At the Interfaith Holocaust Remembrance Service held at Community Congregational Church in Short Hills, Hanna Keselman spoke movingly about her time as a “hidden child.” In 1939, when she was 8, her parents left her with the Oeuvre de Secours aux Engants (OSE), the international Jewish organization for children’s welfare. She was separated from her parents until 1943. “They left an 8-year-old, and reunited with a 12-year old,” said Keselman. “It was difficult to become reacquainted.”
Her mother visited her in 1942. On that very day the school was raided, but she and her mother hid in the woods until it was safe. Her father was sent to a camp, but escaped; her mother was tortured. In 1945 Hanna and her family went to Italy, where Hanna boarded at a convent. Her father was arrested again, but while he escaped she learned much later that his freedom lasted only a few days before he was sent to a German camp and executed. She and her mother did not know what had become of him, and waited in Italy until 1947 before coming to America.
Annie Hassen of Berkeley Heights stirringly performed a handbell solo, “Lord, Make Us Intsruments of Your Peace.” Hassen, 18, told Baristanet she has been studying the handbells since she was 8. Many in the kosher reception at the church were talking about her performance afterwards.
Everyone in the church was invited up to the stage to light a votive candle to honor the dead mourned on this day.