By Leah Ganor, Mashmout Center Director
At Mashmaut Center in Kiryat Motzkin, a Holocaust remembrance project, ‘Before Our Eyes’ is being conducted. The project is supported by the Jewish community of Orlando within the framework of Partnership 2000, its goal: deepening connections between Holocaust survivors and second and third generation residents of Kiryat Motzkin as well as with the Orlando community. Survivors are encouraged to tell their personal stories to the younger generation of Kiryat Motzkin and to visiting missions of adults and teens from Orlando.
As Holocaust survivors deliver their personal testimonies, the complexity of handing down their stories to future generations is revealed. This is expressed, among other things, in the difficulty survivors had in internalizing events as they happened, and the difficulties that come later—when survivors attempt to tell their stories to people with no first-hand experience of the types of experiences they went through.
Actually it is not only we, as a society and as individuals living after the Holocaust, who find it difficult to comprehend this 20th century human story that actually happened. The victims, even then, felt the same way during the course of those events.
Both Holocaust survivors and those who hear their stories, without having any such personal experiences, encounter the same difficulty. When witnesses to Holocaust events transfer their experiences into the medium of language, and into the present experience of listeners, they run into an obstacle: As humans, language is our primary medium. But the meaning of normal-world, everyday words do not, and cannot, match the world of the camps.
Before Our Eyes provides enrichment for Holocaust survivors via workshops, lectures, tours, and encounters with the younger generation. We encourage them to tell their stories to young people while providing both populations with the added value of an intergenerational connection. The younger generation, in what is becoming a never-again opportunity, connect with the subject through first-hand testimony.
The project includes activities such as workshops, lectures, tours, and shows for survivors and second and third generation Israelis. Through its activities, the project strengthens the connection between Holocaust survivors and the young generation. Survivors share their personal stories from the Holocaust and, correspondingly, 200 young people from Kiryat Motzkin are volunteering to investigate and document their stories. Moreover, through the project, soldiers arrive for day-seminars and workshops in which they have moving encounters with survivors involved in the project.
During the year, Holocaust survivors met at Mashmaut Center with representatives of the Orlando Jewish community as well as a mission of golden-agers. Thanks to the contribution and support of the Jewish community of Orlando, the project has been able to grow and expand. Now is the opportunity to thank all of the members of the community who contribute and work for the benefit of the project and, in particular, strengthen our partnership. Well done!