“Survivors” remembers Holocaust

Local News

The JCC will present “Survivors” featuring the stories of 10 local survivors of the Holocaust at the Hart Theatre on Tuesday, June 12 at 7:00 p.m.

It’s a performance created to help bring the story of the Holocaust to local students. Freyda Schneider, the founder of TYKEs at the JCC, and actress Sara Penner discussed “Survivors” Tuesday during News 8 at Sunrise.

“We commissioned this play, written by a fantastic playwright named Wendy Kout and it incorporates the real life testimonies, the actual life experiences of ten Holocaust survivors who ultimately relocated to Rochester,” explained Schneider. “As our survivors are becoming fewer and fewer, there’s less opportunity for schools to hear first hand from survivors what it was like, what the atrocities of the Holocaust really were. We looked for a play that we could bring to those schools and we couldn’t find quite what we were looking for, so we decided to create one ourselves and it uses the exact words of those survivors, weaved together in such a fantastic way, portrayed by six local actors.”

Penner was drawn to the material. “As I was growing up, I knew grandparents who had survived the Holocaust,” she explained. “It was something that felt close to us in a different way and I think it’s really important that we continue to tell their stories. It’s also been incredible in a few of the performances that we’ve had. We have had survivors in the audience, or their grandchildren, or great grandchildren, and it’s an honor to be sharing those stories that I think are so important.”

She added, “I play a woman named Ellen Lewinsky, and her and her husband, Erich Arndt, were part of the largest group of survivors to come from Berlin intact as a family, and they settled here in Rochester. And yes, it is a love story, and she was part of the resistance movement in Berlin and just an incredible woman.”

The vision for “Survivors” is to go beyond the stage and help students learn about the horrifying reality of the Holocaust, so that it is never forgotten or repeated. “For eighth graders in New York State, Holocaust education is part of the mandate but it’s difficult sometimes to know in what way to cover that material,” Schneider said. “It’s difficult material and here is one way that we can provide to serve schools.”

To get your tickets to see “Survivors” at the JCC on June 12, call (585) 461-2000 or click here.

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