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Adopt a Survivor Event at Dominion

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On Thursday April 12, Dominion’s newly formed Jewish Student Union hosted their first Adopt-a-Survivor event for six survivors of the Holocaust. The event was established by Irving Roth in 1998 to encourage small group conversations between survivors and students and for the students to adopt the survivor’s story.

The adoption involves an annual commemoration of the survivor with personalized candles given to the audience during the opening of the event and another commemoration in 2045, the anniversary of Auschwitz liberation.

Delegates from around the world sat with Dominion students, teachers, and parents to hear the stories of those that survived the Holocaust. During the opening of the event, the auditorium was filled with incredible emotion as students spoke about the survivors they were representing.

Freshman English teacher, Mrs. Korsen said, “I learned about the Adopt-a-Survivor event last summer with a program that [she] did for Holocaust educators in New York.” She is the daughter of one of the survivors, and she spoke about the ways to commemorate the survivors, such as International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27th.

“As soon as I heard about it I knew it was a good match [for Dominion] because the whole idea is to have the stories continue to be told and having them told in lots of different countries just seemed like a natural fit,” Korsen said.

Students and teachers handed out electronic candles to the members of the audience as students spoke remembrance of various genocides and atrocities in history which violated human rights. Among these speakers were Mrs. Korsen’s sons. “The best part of what happened was that my own kids [were part of the event], by participating I feel like it’s the first time they actually owned the story themselves,” Korsen said.  

The survivors then spread into different rooms to speak to groups about their experiences and the lives they lived before, during, and after the Holocaust. The survivors shared their stories and students were free to ask questions they may have had.  

In the coming years, Mrs. Korsen has plans to hopefully grow and expand the event to include a school wide commemoration but to keep the small groups for the purposes of the events.

The survivors are as follows:

Jacques Wagschal

Ruben Sztajer

Klara Sever

Margit Meissner

John Grausz

Hirsch Barth

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Adopt a Survivor Event at Dominion