On Thursday 4 June, ZFA Kangarusski, in partnership with Limmud FSU Community Labs held an online event called Sharing Your Story.
This event was part of the “Talking Holocaust” project, which was founded by Sean Torban. Sean is an up-and-coming community leader with a strong interest in the history and heritage of the Russian speaking Jewish community. After completing Taglit-Birthright with Kangarusski in 2018, Sean created a program for young adults that focuses on conversations about the Holocaust.
For this event, the participants met, over zoom, a Russian-speaking Holocaust survivor and his family members. They listened to their stories and memories and then engaged in a conversation about the significance and impact of these memories on our lives in modern times. The speakers and the event participants shared their own family stories and photographs.
The special guest speaker was Amanda Gordon, a professional psychologist who is very experienced with working with families of Holocaust survivors. She focused on the importance of passing the memories of the Holocaust to younger generations as well as answering thoughtful questions raised by audience members.
Anna Maylis, ZFA Kangarusski’s co-ordinator said of the event, “it was very emotional to hear young people telling the stories of their grandparents and to see the strong connection between generations. This special connection that we all have to our past defines who we are and unites us all.”
The event was organised by volunteers of all ages who gathered materials, brought photos of their family members and provided music and documents. It was a collaborative and meaningful event.
David Binder, a Holocaust survivor who told his story at the event was philosophical about sharing memories and honouring the past. He said, “The events of the Holocaust should be known and remembered, but they should not be a source of hatred or anger, rather they should be the reason for achieving goals, family joy and an endless desire to live. Only these feelings saved us and gave us the strength to continue living.”
Kangarusski is the affectionate term for the Russian-Speaking Jewish Community (RSJC) project, a department of the Zionist Federation of Australia. Kangarusski offers a wide-range of educational and social events and activities for the RSJC including family events, holiday programs for children and young adult leadership programs. Since its inception in 2012, ZFA Kangarusski has been instrumental in encouraging a broader range of cooperation between the RSJC and the wide Jewish community, and its activities have given the next generation of the RSJC an opportunity to discover their Jewish identity and connection to Israel.