I stand before you today not only as a representative of the Jewish United Fund, but also as the granddaughter of Holocaust survivors. My grandfather, Abraham Borenheim, and my grandmother, Gusta Berghut Borenheim, both of blessed memory, are no longer with us and since they could not be here today, I stand here to honor them. They were the only survivors in each of their respective families, so I also stand here in the shoes of their parents, grandparents, siblings, cousins, spouse and children whose lives were so brutally taken for nothing other than their religion.
Growing up the grandchild of Holocaust survivors is a different experience. There were secrets, and questions you could not ask grandma or grandpa. There were wounds so deep, no passage of time or amount of new joy could heal them. There were stories about unspeakable horrors that happened to my family and the Jewish people that were hard to fathom as a child.
But there was also love. Incredible and unending amounts of love. My grandparents taught me about kindness, bravery and the courage to carry on. They never forgot, but they came from nothing and having no one to raising a beautiful family in the land of Israel and the United States. They, along with the other survivors, formed a new family - a community that supported each other, shared their pain, but also reveled in each other's joys. They taught me that family is everything - and it shows today as I am joined by my loving husband, parents and my in-laws.
Most kids found their heroes in comic books or Hollywood. I got to have Shabbat dinner each week with my two biggest heroes. There was my grandmother, who jumped from a train heading to a death camp and walked 5 miles with a broken leg in the middle of winter in Poland until she was hidden in a barn by Righteous Gentiles. Then there was my grandfather, who, as a tailor, was kept alive to sew uniforms for the Nazis. But that wasn't enough for him - he taught other men in secret how to sew and saved their lives too. That is how I will remember them - as my heroes.
But they also taught me to remember each and every individual murdered in the Holocaust. Whether they were related to us, whether their names are even known, we must never forget the men, women, and children whose lives were so cruelly taken in the effort to exterminate our people. We remember them all as members of our family, our people.
As we remember, we must also be proud. Despite efforts to wipe us from the face of the earth, our people rose up to build a new, thriving Jewish community in this free country and to help establish the State of Israel, a democratic country in the historic homeland of our people. We owe a great debt to the survivor community who played a huge role in making sure the Jewish people will always have a safe haven.
The Jewish people have proudly proclaimed: we will NOT forget. We WILL remember. And we will continue to do so, l'dov v'dor, from generation to generation.
Because of this legacy, we, as the children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren of these courageous survivors, bear a responsibility. We must continue to remember and honor the memories of those that came before us. We must carry the torch and make sure that the meaning of the words "never forget" is never forgotten. And we must honor with deep gratitude the survivors in the audience, and even those no longer with us, for sharing your stories, for teaching us to remember and for being our heroes.
And so today, let us join in remembering the past, in appreciating the present, and in re-dedicating ourselves to building a safe and flourishing future for our children, for our grandchildren, and for the Jewish people.