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A Holocaust Remembrance Day event was canceled due to too few registrations. So hundreds showed up at Zoom to hear the story of survivors

Sydney Goldstein, 28, took care of it with a little help from others.

Fridland, 86, was to speak Thursday night in Boulder, Colorado, at a Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day event – a day of reflection on the horrors of the Nazi massacre of six million Jews and the millions who survived.

Goldstein said she tried to sign up for the event, but the online link did not work. She later found out that the program had been canceled due to low registration, she said.

“This kind of triggered a fire in me,” Goldstein recalled Saturday. “There will soon come a time when Holocaust survivors will no longer be present and so we can not waste a single year.”

As the Holocaust disappears from public memory and anti-Semitism increases, Goldstein was determined to allow Fridland to share his story.

She tracked down Fridland’s number and left a message to see if he could attend a last minute event, which she quickly put together. Fridland, a retired scientist, had to call her back because he was on a bike ride.

“You know I live in Colorado,” Fridland joked in an interview with CNN. “I’m forced to try to pretend I’m still 25.”

Words spread, and Zoom calls reached capacity

Goldstein, a doula, was the nanny of Gal and Maya Weinstock, who agreed to host the event in their home.

“We’re just starting to send messages to everyone to really show support,” Goldstein said, adding that Weinstocks also reached out to Israeli friends living in Boulder.

She also announced the event on Instagram and received about 50 messages. Goldstein said she set up a Zoom video conference for the lecture. About 30 people showed up at the Weinstock home.

“I thought the top 20 people would show up at Zoom,” Goldstein said.

Fridland began talking, and soon Zoom reached a capacity of 300 people, Goldstein said.

“I kept getting messages from people: It’s on capacity. What are we doing? So I went on Instagram Live and we had over 600 interactions about it. Someone from Bangkok had joined in. It was like a worldwide event . “

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Fridland talked about walking the streets of Belgium as a boy, where his father tightened the grip on his hand while rows of German soldiers passed by.

“It was exciting to watch. It was scary to watch, but all the while I realized they were dangerous,” he said.

He talked about being separated from his Jewish parents in late 1942 – he was only 6 – and being taken in by another family. After the war, he learned that his parents were killed in Auschwitz, where more than a million people were murdered. Until the beginning of 1945, he said, he still expected his parents to return after him.

“As my mother told me before, ‘We’ll be together soon – again,’ ‘he told CNN. He remembered that dozens of Jewish children were taken in and rescued by many non-Jewish families.

“People who themselves had very little were still willing to help a Jewish child,” he said.

The evening was one of the most unforgettable experiences in Goldstein’s life, she said.

“It’s just so beautiful how the community came together to really show Arnold that we care and that we know this is something that is very important and we are invested in his story and we want to listen. and show him that we will never forget, “she said.

“It was a beautiful example of the power of community, the power of a spark and a few people who wanted to make a difference, and then it caught on like a steppe fire.”

‘It was extremely inspiring’

One of the people on the Zoom call was Jonathan Allen, a manager of the Anti-Defamation League in Washington, DC. He learned about the talk from a friend’s post on social media.

“When I joined … there were only about seven people on, and so I immediately went and shared it on my Facebook, Instagram and Twitter to hopefully get more people on – and I’m sure others did too ,” he said . “And just 20 minutes later, Zoom reached its capacity of 300 people, and people flocked in from all over the world and from all over the United States.”

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Allen said the ADL in 2021 counted more than 2,700 anti-Semitic incidents across the United States – a 34% increase from the year before and the highest number since the organization began keeping track of it in 1979.

“The opportunity to interact with survivors, to hear directly from them and their stories, only gets fewer and fewer as the survivors get older, unfortunately,” he said. “And even now we have Holocaust deniers while there are still survivors, and it’s therefore up to us, the next generation, to continue to pass on stories like Arnold’s – and that’s why I think it resonated. in so many people. “

At the end of his presentation, Fridland politely thanked his audience. There was a round of applause.

Goldstein stepped forward and said of Fridland’s history: “It’s all over America. It’s all over the world.”

“Great,” he said with a small smile.

“He was able to live such a beautiful, full, happy and successful life after experiencing such darkness at such a young age,” Goldstein said Saturday.

“It was extremely inspiring and made me realize even deeper what an honor it was to meet Arnold and get him to share his story.”

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