By Cindy Mindell ~
UJA/Federation of Eastern Fairfield County, in cooperation with the Jewish Federation Association of Connecticut (JFACT), will be the sponsoring community for this year’s official State Holocaust commemoration. The program will take place on Friday, Apr. 20 at 11 a.m. in the State Senate Chambers in Hartford.
Holocaust survivor and Westport resident Anita Ron Schorr will be the keynote speaker. Participating clergy include Rabbi Daniel Victor and Cantor Jason Green of Congregation Rodeph Sholom in Bridgeport, and Rev. Sara Smith of United Congregational Church of Bridgeport. The program, introduced by event chair Adele Jacobs, includes a musical presentation by the Ezra Academy choir in Woodbridge. Memorial candles for the six million Jewish Holocaust victims will be lit by Holocaust survivors from the community.
A native of Czechoslovakia, Schorr was arrested with her family in 1939 when she was 8. The family survived the Jewish ghetto and was transported to Terezin, where Schorr sang in the children’s opera, “Brundibár.” The family was then deported to Auschwitz, where her parents and younger brother were murdered. Schorr served in a slave-labor unit in Hamburg before ending up in Bergen-Belsen. After liberation, Schorr joined the Haganah and fought in the Israeli War of Independence. She married a fellow Czech and lived on a kibbutz until 1959, when the couple came to the U.S. Trained as a commercial artist, Schorr didn’t start telling her story until about 10 years ago, after retiring from a long career.
Throughout Fairfield County, at churches and synagogues, schools and universities, Holocaust commemoration programs, Schorr sketches the arc of her family’s destruction in graphic detail, through the eyes of a child and adolescent. Her message: “Step in. Be a Hero!” is an urgent call to audiences to be more than bystanders and witnesses. “I tell people that we have to act now, today,” she says. “I tell them, especially younger listeners, that they have to be heroes. They are the only ones who can make the future better, stand up against bullies, and prevent atrocities like the Holocaust from happening again.”