Day 63: We Believe in Miracles
Meet Samantha Glied-Beliak and Orli Kessel, co-chairs of this year’s Dinner of Miracles, an annual event that pairs young members of the Jewish community with Holocaust survivors at the same table, to break bread, hear testimony, and forge a deep and meaningful connection between the generations.
Glied-Beliak has a personal reason for organizing this important event, which UJA has sponsored for the past 2 years. All four of Samantha’s grandparents are Holocaust survivors – every one of them with their own story, and each one having its own impact on her Holocaust education.
In April, 1944, when Samantha’s grandfather Bill Glied, 85, was just 13 years old, he was deported along with his entire family from his home town of Subotica, Serbia to Auschwitz-Birkenau. In June 1944, he was transferred to the Dachau concentration camp in Germany where he worked as a slave labourer, building the infamous Ringeltaube. He was liberated by the US Army on April 29, 1945, and came to Canada as an orphan in 1947.
Glied has participated in Dinner of Miracles for the past two years, and along with hundreds of other Holocaust Survivors, have over the past 11 years, touched the lives of more than 2,000 young adults who participated in the evening.
“Dinner of Miracles is a rare opportunity for the community, especially young adults, to not only hear directly from Holocaust Survivors, but to engage in discussions with them, to ask questions and gain a deeper understanding of their story,” says Glied-Beliak, who recently attended the last Nazi trial in Detmold, Germany, along with her fiancee Rafi, mother, grandmother and grandfather, Glied, who testified against former SS guard Reinhold Hanning. “The community becomes witnesses of the Holocaust, themselves. They continue to spread the courageous stories of survival, and continue to honour those we lost, for generations to come.
“Continuously educating the community through Holocaust Education Week, March of the Living, and programs like Dinner of Miracles, contributes to the creation of more witnesses for our future generations,” continues Glied. “The lessons of the Holocaust — of not staying silent when faced with intolerance; and of the strength of the human spirit, are important lessons not just for our Jewish Community, but for the world, bringing us one step closer to Tikkun Olam.”
Kessel’s paternal grandfather, Joseph, fled Nazi Germany with his family as a young boy – leaving behind the life they’d known, their successful family business, as well as their citizenship, when they sought refuge in South Africa. More than 60 years later, Joseph would reclaim his German nationality, enabling his son, Alan, as well as his granddaughters, Orli and Maddie, to become re-nationalized German citizens.
“While some of us grew up with family members who experienced the war first-hand, there are others of us for whom the opportunity to listen, bear witness, and ask questions, is not as readily accessible,” says Kessel. “Dinner of Miracles provides a unique opportunity for young adults to engage with and connect to Holocaust survivors, in real-time.
“Together with Holocaust Education Week, the March of the Living, and other community programs, Dinner of Miracles helps foster awareness and ensures that – l’dor vador – we never forget,” she says.
The UJA Federation of Greater Toronto’s 12th Annual Dinner of Miracles will take place at Petah Tikva Anshe Castilla Congregation on Monday, November 7.
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