they crowd together around a microphone and haggadah to sing
3gSF members Steven Green, Maayan Stanton and Zoe Goldfarb, along with 2-year-old Zev Green, recite the Four Questions at the 3gSF seder on April 14. (Photo/Michael Fox)

Grandkids of survivors create bridge to past, and to future

Memory may take many forms besides a remembrance of things past. Great athletes master muscle memory. Organizations embody institutional memory. For survivors of historical calamity, whether slavery for African Americans or the Holocaust for 20th-century European Jews, traumatic memory can pass down through the generations.

As the number of Holocaust survivors inevitably dwindles, their legacies live on, not only through the efforts made by organizations such as Steven Spielberg’s Shoah Foundation, but also through the survivors’ descendants who tell their stories.

Often, the survivors did not tell their children what they lived through. Some in this second generation experience a kind of inherited grief from their parents, which may manifest in various ways, including a family history of silence. But in later years, the survivors did manage to open up to their grandchildren, the next generation. Many are now in their 20s and 30s and have found their own voices, speaking out as unique heirs of history’s darkest time.

As our story today shows, the grandchildren of survivors — dubbed 3G for “third generation” — honor the experience of their forebears in many ways. They travel to Eastern Europe, retracing their grandparents’ steps through horror to freedom. They hold special events, such as Passover seders that emphasize the lessons of the Holocaust. They share their family legacy with peers. And often they simply choose to enjoy each other’s company, recounting their histories to one another.

Perhaps no one better understands what a grandchild of a survivor has gone through like a fellow 3Ger.

And so we applaud the members of 3gSF for founding in 2013 a chapter in the Bay Area, which had long been home to a large population of survivors and their families. As we continue to lose survivors, the activism of groups like 3gSF grows increasingly important.

As 3gSF member Zoe Goldfarb says, “My hope is that [we] will become the storytellers for future generations.”

We also applaud the dedication and organizational skills of the Jewish Family and Children’s Services Holocaust Center, which took the lead on setting up the local 3G chapter.

This story runs just as we prepare to mark Yom HaShoah, the Jewish day of Holocaust remembrance, on Sunday, April 23. It is a sacred, solemn day throughout the Jewish world, marked by many Bay Area events.

Just as we shall never forget, neither shall we fail as a community to exalt the life we have been given. For a thriving State of Israel, for a Jewish community made whole again, we give thanks as we look ever forward.

J. Editorial Board

The J. Editorial Board pens weekly editorials as the voice of J.