Remember the Holocaust Commemoration with Child Survivor Ingrid Kennedy

The Shaw JCC and Jewish Community Board of Akron invite the entire community to remember the Holocaust on Sunday, April 15, at 7 p.m., at the Schultz Campus for Jewish Life.

This year’s Yom HaShoah Commemoration will feature testimony, words and poems by Jewish children during the Holocaust. Only ten to fifteen thousand Jewish children survived — 1.5 million did not. Akronite Ingrid Kennedy is one of the of the children who survived, thanks to kind people who took in and hid a Jewish child whom they had never met.

Kennedy will share her family’s story of survival which began in Vienna, Austria, where she was born in 1936. In 1940, her father and uncle were saved by a non-Jewish intelligence officer who urgently told them to leave Vienna while there was still opportunity to escape. They arrived in Paris after an arduous journey, and three months later, four-year-old Kennedy along with her mother, aunt and cousin followed.

Kennedy was sheltered as a young student in the Chabannes School, a Catholic school in France. Nuns took her in and risked everything to hide her and others in the school while some family members and friends died in concentration camps. Her family moved to Montreal, Canada in 1955, where she met and married Joseph Kennedy, and later they moved to Akron in 1970.

Dr. Sidney Steinberger, chair of this year’s Yom HaShoah Committee and son of a child survivor from Vienna, finds many parallels between Mrs. Kennedy’s story and his mother’s:

“We are extremely grateful to have Mrs. Kennedy to describe her and her family’s plight in this nightmarish time. It is another special story with their personal success in contrast to so many of their relatives who died.  Knowing my mother’s parallel origin from Vienna and hearing this description, brings home so many similarities as to the serendipity of who took advantage of the breaks and opportunities that arose. They had to recognize the urgency to get out of the invaded countries. Timing and making split second decisions as well as taking the right action at the right time to be able to successfully escape, before the window of opportunity closed. Most of all, her family and the way she tells her story justifiably recognizes the kindnesses and risks that righteous gentiles took to save so many Jewish lives.”    

The Yom HaShoah commemoration will include a memorial service and candle lighting ceremony. As is the custom in Israel, the commemoration will begin with the sounding of a siren. Uri Hershkovitz, Akron’s shaliach, will lead the community by asking all in attendance to stand during the one-minute blast of the siren.

The commemoration is free and open to the public and is suitable for middle school children through adults. For more information please contact Rachel Armin Williams, Shaw JCC adult programming coordinator, at 330-835-0027.