By Reporter staff
The Jewish Federation of Greater Binghamton will hold a community Yom Hashoah program on Thursday, April 8, at 7 pm. The virtual event will include a live Zoom session with Holocaust survivor Rachel Malmed Epstein, readings by local rabbis and a short introduction from an Israeli dignitary. The event will feature a documentary about Epstein, as well as allow her to share her memories of that time. To register for the Zoom link, visit the Federation website at www.jfgb.org.
Epstein was born Rachel Malmed in 1932 in Campiègne, France. By 1942, after English bombs destroyed their home, Malmed, her parents and her younger brother found themselves living in the upstairs apartment of a three-apartment building. One day, the French police came to take her parents to the station for “interrogation” and left the children to fend for themselves. A Gentile neighbor volunteered to watch after 10-year-old Malmed and her 5-year-old brother, Leon, until their return. Their parents did not return. The family hid the children openly throughout the war, risking their lives and the lives of their own children. Out of the approximately 400 Jewish citizens of Compiègne, the two children were the only ones who survived. After the war, Malmed and her brother did everything they could to honor that family for saving their lives.
In 1950, at the age of 17, Epstein came to the United States where she met her husband, Izzy. They were married a year later, and 13 years after that they were able to bring Leon and his family to the United States. Rachel and Izzy live in Roslyn and have two children, four grandchildren and one great-grandchild.
“I am pleased that we will be able to once again hold a Holocaust commemoration,” said Shelley Hubal, executive director of the Federation. “This is our second year holding a virtual one, but I feel it’s important for the community to gather to recognize the significance of Yom Hashoah. This event is special because we’ll be having a Holocaust survivor speak.”
Hubal noted the importance of hearing a Holocaust survivor speak. “The survivors of the Holocaust are aging and there are fewer opportunities to speak with them directly,” she said. “I look forward to hearing Rachel speak about her experience. There is nothing like hearing someone in person, even if it is through a computer. We need to cherish these opportunities and honor the survivors while we still can.”