Holocaust Remembrance: Hillel events to examine Jewish resistance during WWII

Publication Date

Murray Jaros spent his childhood in the woods of Poland, hiding from Nazis during World War II.

Judith Ginsburg also survived the war by living and fighting in the forest as a member of two Partisan units.

The plight of Jews such as Jaros and Ginsburg was most notably dramatized in one of the chief movies about Polish resistance, “Defiance,” starring Daniel Craig and Lev Schreiber as the Bielski brothers, resistance fighters.

Members of the campus community will have an opportunity to learn the stories of Jaros and Ginsburg, thanks to a Holocaust Remembrance Grant awarded to Union College Hillel to examine the Jewish resistance during the war.

The $5,450 grant from the David and Fela Shapell Family Foundation and Hillel: The Foundation for Jewish Campus Life is one of 14 grants funded from 36 applications across the country.

“Our program starts with the testimony of a witness, Murray Jaros, and closes with the stories of a granddaughter, Shira Ginsburg, in a monologue about her grandmother Judith’s remarkable life,” said Director of Union College Hillel Bonnie Cramer, who created the programming for the grant.

“The focus is to engage students in Holocaust remembrance while linking to an existing educational program, Professor Stephen Berk’s Holocaust class,” she said. “I am grateful for the opportunity Hillel International has given our campus to enhance Holocaust education.”

Jaros will speak on Yom HaShoah, Monday, April 8, at 5:30 p.m. in Reamer Auditorium.

A Niskayuna resident and lawyer who has lived in the U.S. for more than 50 years, Jaros was eight in 1941 when the Nazis arrived in his family’s village in a remote section of eastern Poland. His testimony about that time – which includes the searing memory of seeing his father tortured in front of him – will close with the Holocaust kaddish and lighting of the yellow yahrzeit memorial candle.

The film “Defiance” will be presented Thursday, April 25 at 7 p.m. in Reamer Auditorium. The showing will include a prologue and epilogue by Berk, the Henry and Sally Schaffer Professor of Holocaust and Jewish Studies.

Rounding out the remembrance events is Shira Ginsburg’s one-woman show, “Bubby’s Kitchen,”April 28 at 1 p.m. in the GE Theatre at Proctors. The event is free to the Union community.

Originally from Troy, N.Y., where her family ran a dairy farm, Ginsburg is now a cantor in New York City. She retells her grandmother’s (Bubby’s) story of hiding in the woods with the Bielski brothers, weaving together her family’s story of resistance and survival through monologue, and Yiddish, liturgical and musical theater songs. With a background as a professional actress, singer and songwriter, she has performed on stages in Israel, England and throughout the U.S.

To reserve a seat for “Bubby’s Kitchen, email Cramer at cramerb@union.edu.