CEDARHURST, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) – More than 150 Holocaust survivors spent time with 10 Israeli soldiers on Long Island on Thursday.
The inter-generational meeting took place as Jews around the world prepare to celebrate Rosh Hashanah later this month, reports CBS2’s Kiran Dhillon.
Hand in hand, Israeli soldiers and Holocaust survivors joined together to dance and celebrate life.
Betty Weintraub was just 3 years old when the Germans occupied her small town in Poland.
Her father was killed as a result.
Today’s meeting was an emotional yet joyful one.
“I say thank God that we survived it and there’s a new generation that came out of the Holocaust and they are doing so well,” said Weintraub.
Auschiwitz survivor Rachel Glitdmen echoes the sentiment.
“This is life, it’s existence,” she said. “This is hope and this is strength.”
The survivors were thrilled to meet with the men who are in New York with Brothers for Life, an organization that supports Israeli defense force soldiers that are wounded during combat.
Maor Elcobi and Motty Grubin were both injured during different missions in the Gaza Strip.
Despite their own injuries, both say the meeting was a humbling and inspiring experience.
“It gives us perspective,” said Elcobi. “If you’re having injuries and trauma, look at these people, what they’ve gone through and still continue their lives.”
“With the Holocaust survivors it puts it all into perspective, of why there is an army and what is Israel,” said Grubin.
Brothers for Life sends 10 delegations of soldiers on trips around the world each year. The goal is to give the soldiers time to process their emotional wounds that they received as a result of their time in combat.
“We take a week for the guys to come and heal and take time for themselves,” said Grubin.
The men say this event is an opportunity to connect with the past.
“Our survivors are healing each day form when they were released from camps to the time them in their 90s, and our soldiers are healing,” said Cathy Byrne, associate director of the Marion & Aaron Gural JCC.
Many of these survivors say ensuring the moments from the Holocaust are passed on to the next generation will only help inform the future.