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Holocaust survivors honored at Upper East Side synagogue

Thousands attended the Annual Gathering of Remembrance, which falls on the Sunday before Holocaust Remembrance Day each year.

Erika Estis, a Holocaust survivor, lights a memorial

Erika Estis, a Holocaust survivor, lights a memorial candle at the Annual Gathering of Remembrance at Temple Emanu-El in Manhattan on Sunday. Photo Credit: Marisol Diaz-Gordon

Over 3,000 guests gathered at an Upper East Side synagogue Sunday afternoon to honor Holocaust survivors and ensure that its horrors will never be forgotten.

The Annual Gathering of Remembrance service saw one of its largest crowds in years at Temple Emanu-El on East 65th Street, according to the Museum of the Jewish Heritage, which organized the event.

Michael Glickman, the museum’s president and CEO, said this showing was important as reports of anti-Semitism and hate crimes around the world continue to rise.

“It is an important lesson of what we mean to each other,” he told the crowd. “We will not forget.”

The service is held annually on the Sunday before Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, which falls on April 11 this year. It includes recollections from survivors and their families.

Toby Levy, who was born in Poland in 1933, spoke about the long ordeal that she and her family endured hiding from the Nazis. Levy held back tears as she described the fear and hunger they faced while hiding in a barn and attic during the war.

“Somebody has to survive,” she remembered her father telling her. “We have to tell the world.”

Levy said the most important message she learned from her father was to keep her spirits up and draw on the anguish they experienced, to help others.

“My father taught me to remember, not hate,” she said. “Hate will destroy you.”

The ceremony honored 36 female survivors, who lit candles with the help of their younger family members. Five other survivors also lit candles, including Max Lerner, who fled Austria, joined the U.S. Army and fought the Nazis.

Glickman encouraged the younger generations to continue speaking about the history, so that future atrocities can be prevented.

Amanda Lanceter said she was inspired by her grandmother, who is a survivor, to join the museum and continue spreading her story.

“I hope the work I do honors them,” she said.

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