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ITHACA, N.Y. — On May 5th, our community will get the chance to hear a firsthand account of one of the most tragic episodes in world history, the Holocaust, from a woman who survived it.
Helen Levinson says she survived the Holocaust because of “a thousand miracles.”
As a young girl, Levinson escaped the Majdanek concentration camp in Poland because a mailman, who was a friend of her father’s, gave her a Hitler Youth uniform so that she could walk out, undetected, with a visiting group. She then assumed a Catholic identity with a fake birth certificate obtained from a priest and traveled through Poland, Austria and Germany looking for work.
At one point, she lived with the family of a Nazi, doing manual labor. She somehow made it through the war – she believes she’s the only member of her family to survive – and tracked down relatives in Rochester by placing ads in the newspaper.
They arranged for her to come to the U.S. in 1947, at the age of 17.
“The wrong word, the wrong move, or even the slightest sign of fright, could have meant a death sentence,” she said.
Eighty six year old Levinson, will be the featured speaker at a Holocaust Memorial Day Lecture at 7 p.m. on Thursday, May 5th, at Temple Beth-El, 402 N. Tioga St., in Ithaca. The event is free and open to the public.
There are quite a number of Holocaust survivors and their descendents living in the Ithaca area. At the May 5th commemoration, several of them will be honored in a special candle-lighting ceremony. The Ithaca Children’s Choir will also perform.
The event is sponsored by the Ithaca Area United Jewish Community, a non-profit organization that supports Jewish communities locally and around the world. The IAUJC website can be found at www.iaujc.org.
Funding has also been provided by Tompkins Trust Company; Wegmans; Area Congregations Together; Advanced Dental Technology of Ithaca II; Lifespan Physical Therapy, Occupational Therapy, and Speech and Language Pathology; Ithaca Oral Surgery and Implant Center; Temple Beth-El; and Congregation Tikkun v’Or.
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