Tapestry of Our Past

My rabbinate has been profoundly impacted by hearing and sharing our history through personal narratives. For the second consecutive year, our community’s Adult Adopt a Survivor program has provided a unique and powerful opportunity to engage with our past through the lived experiences of Holocaust survivors. This initiative has been transformative, not only for those who participated as adopters but also for the survivors who bravely shared their stories.


Elie Wiesel, a Holocaust survivor and renowned author, once said, “Whoever listens to a witness becomes a witness.” This powerful statement encapsulates the essence of our Adopt a Survivor program. By listening to the testimonies of survivors, our participants have become living witnesses to their stories. They have taken on the sacred responsibility of bearing witness, ensuring that these personal histories are never forgotten.

The experience of our adopters has been deeply moving. They have approached this journey with open hearts and minds, ready to listen without judgment and to walk alongside their survivors. In doing so, they have held the loss, pain, resilience, and hope of another person, integrating these powerful experiences into their own lives. This act of empathetic listening and compassionate engagement has been the core goal of our program.

I want to express my heartfelt gratitude to Dinah Kramer, whose dedication and passion have been instrumental in educating our community about the Holocaust. Her commitment to engaging us in history through a personal lens has enriched our understanding and connection to this critical part of our heritage.

We also extend our deepest thanks to the fifteen adult participants who gave of their time and hearts to this program, and to the four survivors and their families who courageously shared their lives with us. Your willingness to be moved and to build meaningful relationships with each other has strengthened the bonds within our community and ensured that the legacy of the Holocaust is preserved in the most human and impactful way.

Our history is a collection of human experiences to be felt and shared. Through programs like Adopt a Survivor, we honor the past, enrich our present, and ensure that the voices of those who endured unimaginable suffering are never silenced. Together, we become witnesses, carrying forward the lessons of resilience, hope, and the enduring power of the human spirit.

An excerpt of Carol Blumenthal’s reflection.

“Yet I keep coming back to you, Renee, walking hand in hand with your maternal grandfather while he shared with you his reverence for the natural world. In the midst of destruction he showed you God in nature. He took the time to surround you with flowers and cherry trees and the wonders of butterflies. He enabled you to feel the beauty of your country. Now at 93 through your artistry and reverence for diversity in nature, and in humans, you hold your grandfather deep inside you. And so he lives on, as will you.

Carol Blumenthal   June, 2024 RSNS Adopt a Survivor Initiative”

Please join us in the Fall on Friday, November 8th, as we bear witness to these narratives when we will commemorate the Night of the Pogrom of the Reich (Kristallnacht).

With gratitude and hope.

Rabbi Jodie Siff