Everyone has favorite memories from their childhood – maybe a special place they visited, favorite foods or memorable moments spent with loved ones. After the Federation Holocaust Memorial Remembrance event on October 6, I had the chance to share a few of my favorite memories with new friends. The Temple Israel Cemetery is home to a Holocaust memorial stone erected in November 1952 by the Get Together Club, a group of German Jewish women that settled in the Southern Tier after fleeing Nazi persecution.
My grandparents, Siegfried and Gretel Moses, were German Jewish immigrants who arrived in this country in 1938 and settled on a beautiful farm in Norwich, NY. They both lost their parents and other family members in the Shoah. As cattle dealers, they made a nice life for themselves, which included German Jewish friends and traditions. As a child, I was lucky to spend time on their farm. It was a magical place. There were lots of animals (both big and small), acres to roam, an old farm house that held lots of secrets, a creek to explore and old barns that both scared and enthralled my sisters and me. Grandma’s cooking and baking were always a highlight, and we often visited other German Jewish families to schmooze and eat. Some of my happiest childhood days were spent on that farm and I am proud of my roots.
After the memorial event, I was invited back to Alice Zappert Bonis’ parents home in Binghamton for brunch. The morning was filled with reminiscing about the Get Together Club members, their families and the German Jewish community in the Southern Tier after World War II. Despite a generational difference, I felt right at home. There was zwetschgenkuchen, a delicious German plum torte. It was just like the one grandma used to make and made me feel closer to her than I have felt in a long time. Everyone agreed that these German Jewish immigrants were hard-working people who were determined to make a good life for themselves and their families, and they made the Southern Tier of New York a special place to live.
The Federation is honored to remember this unique part of our community’s heritage and to hold a ceremony remembering all that were lost during the darkest time in our history. Whether you were born and raised in Binghamton, or come to us from a distant place, by living here you are part of something built by many special people. We are grateful you choose to live here. With your support, we will continue to make memories, plant roots and have a caring Jewish community. Wishing you many blessings for the New Year.