CT News

BBYO Hosts Holocaust Survivor for Virtual Yom HaShoah

By Jennifer Kruzansky

On April 21, as part of the commemoration of Yom Hashoah – Holocaust Remembrance Day – more than 70 teens and parents of BBYO Connecticut Valley Region came together, virtually, to bear witness to the testimonies of New Haven resident and Holocaust survivor Andy Sarkany. Those gathered at BBYO on Demand for Zikaron BaSalon (Hebrew for “memories in the living room”), sang, talked and, most importantly, listened to Andy’s story. 

Together we heard Andy speak about his experience growing up as a young boy in Hungary during the Holocaust. He shared stories about life in the ghetto, his experiences in school as one of only a few Jewish children, and about reuniting with his father after he was liberated from concentration camp. 

Like everyone else in attendance, Fairfield teen Nathan Zakim was inspired by Andy’s story of resilience and faith. “It was incredible hearing such a profound account of survival through one of the world’s darkest times,” said Nathan. “Andy had such a difficult childhood in occupied Hungary, and his family’s story is inspiring.”

After Andy shared his story, one of our BBYO members sang “Eli, Eli,” and teens shared stories of their own activism to help keep the stories and memories of The Holocaust alive. BBYO member Dara Sadinsky of West Hartford shared her experience testifying at the State Capitol in 2018 in support of Senate Bill 452, which made Holocaust and genocide education mandatory in all Connecticut public schools. 

Woodbridge teen Jenna Zamkov remarked how listening to Andy made her motivated to continue raising awareness about the Holocaust. “The reason we listen to stories and share them is to make sure we never forget and that this never happens again,” said Jenna.

Before closing out our event, Andy shared some words of wisdom that he wanted us all to remember even during this difficult time.

“The door is open to do what you want in life, it is up to you,” he told those gathered. “There is no limit. I used to say the sky is the limit. But not now; now there is no limit.”  

BBYO’s Zikaron Basalon is just one of thousands of events taking place on BBYO’s new worldwide virtual programming platform, BBYO on Demand, a 24/7 virtual hub formed during the COVID-19 outbreak to give all Jewish teens access to an innovative digital space filled with activities, events, and experiences they can tune into from anywhere, anytime. For information on BBYO on Demand programs, visit BBYO.org. 

For more info on BBYO Connecticut Valley Regional Director, contact Regional Direc-tor Jennifer Kruzansky at JKruzansky@bbyo.org, or follow @BBYOInsider on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat.

Main Photo: Andy Sarkany

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