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Holocaust Survivors Honored in Israel

As Israel observed Yom HaShoah, its Holocaust Remembrance Day, survivors of this dark period of history were honored. The Times of Israel’s Jessica Steinberg reports that at the ceremony at Yad Vashem – Israel’s official Holocaust memorial – survivors included a twin experimented on in Auschwitz, those who later fought for the Haganah and IDF, and one woman whose experiences left her unable to speak:

When the annual Holocaust Martyrs’ and Heroes’ Remembrance Day begins Wednesday evening, the official start of the 24-hour-long period is marked with a ceremony at Yad Vashem, Israel’s official museum commemorating the Holocaust…

The torches are traditionally lit by six survivors who suffered through the travails of the Holocaust but managed to emerge alive and make their way to Israel, then just a fledgling state.

“The torchlighters really symbolize the six million victims and the survivors,” said Estee Yaari, a spokesperson for Yad Vashem. “It’s their personal stories that we are able to connect with, that create an emotional connection for many people…”

Ephraim (Moshe) Reichenberg was born in Hungary, and with his twin, Menashe, was the oldest of seven brothers and sisters.

When the entire family was deported to Auschwitz, the twins were taken to Mengele’s laboratories for experiments on their vocal cords. During the death march from Auschwitz in 1945, the two were among 22 of 160 inmates who remained alive.

The brothers eventually reached Prague, where Menashe was hospitalized, while Ephraim returned to Budapest to search for surviving family members.

He found no one, and upon returning to Prague, learned that Menashe had also died. Ephraim, who had been known as Moshe until then, changed his name to Ephraim in memory of his brother, after the biblical sons Joseph, Ephraim and Menashe…

Shela Altaraz was born in Stip, Macedonia, the youngest of four…

Altaraz’s sister, Bella, was allowed to leave because she had Italian citizenship. Their mother pushed Shela into Bella’s arms, telling her to “take the little one.” The rest of the family was forcibly deported and killed at Treblinka.

The two sisters went to Pristina, where Bella ended her life when her husband was imprisoned. Left alone, Shela did housework for a friend, and then found sanctuary in a Muslim village. She was eventually caught and sent to a camp where she was the only child and was nicknamed “the mute” because she didn’t speak…

Tags: Holocaust , Israel

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