Holocaust Survivor And Israeli Pioneer

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Rabbi Todd Chizner, Dr. Jay Berger, Esther Kosiner, Donna Rosenblum, student cantor Mariel Guarrera-Ashkenazy

Esther Kosiner, a Holocaust survivor and a woman who helped to build the State of Israel, spoke at Temple Judea’s Holocaust Resource Center on April 13. Kosiner was part of a panel discussion presented in observance of Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. She was joined by her grandson, Dr. Jay Berger—a Roslyn resident and vice president of Temple Judea’s board—as well as Donna Rosenblum, a Holocaust educator who teaches at the Center.

Kosiner, 97, grew up in Cologne, Germany, escaped from the Nazis and served as a nurse in Israel during the War of Independence in 1948. She frequently speaks to students at Temple Judea, where her great-grandchildren, Jaiden and Jasmine Berger, attend Hebrew School. The school is participating in its second year of a unique national program—Better Together—through which teens and Holocaust survivors meet regularly to share their stories. Through this program, students have the extremely unique opportunity to learn about the Holocaust through stories from the survivors themselves. In addition to the meetings, the students have been working with Holocaust educator and professional storyteller Jennifer Rudick Zunikoff, to learn how to share meaningful pieces of survivor testimony to future generations.

Jaiden Berger with Esther Kosiner

The students, the survivors and Zunikoff led a special program on April 22 at Temple Judea, where they shared their stories with others.

Jaiden recently wrote an essay about his great-grandmother, which reads in part:

I love her with all my heart because she is amazing and also so cute. Her story never gets old, no matter how many times I hear it. I first realized the world was not all cupcakes and rainbows after hearing about the Holocaust for the first time. It was very shocking to hear about the tragedies of life at such a young age. I learned that whatever shock I was going through, the Jews in the Holocaust had it infinitely worse. I was so lucky to hear Ima tell her story to my Hebrew School class at Temple Judea. …

I am so lucky to have my hero, Ima, as such a big part of my life. We celebrate every Shabbat together. When I hold her hand and look at her, it’s hard to imagine that this petite 4’10” great-grandma has accomplished so much in her life. Ima helped to turn the ashes of the Holocaust into a triumph of the Jewish people—Israel.

For more information on Temple Judea, the Hebrew School or the Holocaust Resource Center, contact the Temple Judea office at 516-621-8049 or go to www.temple-judea.com.

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