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Local Holocaust Survivors Address Teens at BBYO International Convention

Esther Geizhals of Larchmont had her bat mitzvah at the BBYO International Kallah in Lake Como, PA in July. Ms. Geizhals, was part of a group of Holocaust survivors representing the Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center who spoke about their experiences growing up under Nazi occupation before 225 teens from ten countries. Ms. Geizhals, whose family was forced into the Lodz ghetto when she was 10 years old, survived the Auschwitz extermination camp, and the concentration camps at Bergen Belsen and Rochlitze, and never had the opportunity before to have 1 bat mitzvah.

Three local Holocaust survivors - Betty Knoop of Armonk, Esther Geizhals of Larchmont and Paul Galan of Suffern, gave a moving presentation about their lives growing up and surviving the murderous Nazi regime, and making new lives in America, before the teenagers from 10 countries at BBYO's International Kallah summer experience at Pearlman Camp in Lake Como, PA.

The event, co-sponsored by the Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center of White Plains (HHREC) and the BBYO, the world's leading pluralistic Jewish youth movement, was held Saturday, July 25th. BBYO's broad program menu enables teens to explore areas of leadership, service, civic engagement, Israel education and Jewish values.

A neighbor of Anne Frank, growing up in Amsterdam, Betty Knoop was eight years old when her family was deported to the same concentration camp, Bergen Belsen where young Ms. Frank died. Esther Geizhals was 10 years old when her family was moved to the Lodz ghetto. She later survived the Auschwitz extermination camp, and the concentration camps at Bergen Belsen and Rochlitze. Ms. Knoop and Geizhals are among a very small group of women who survived the Nazi death camps.

Paul Galan told his story of surviving Nazi genocide, later immigrating to the US, where he directed Emmy nominated documentaries for major TV networks. He was honored with the Robert F. Kennedy Memorial Award in Journalism. Since 1994, the Holocaust & Human Rights Education Center, www.hhrecny. org, has brought the lessons of the Holocaust, genocide and human rights crimes to more than 1,750 teachers, and through them, to thousands of middle and high school students. The Center's mission is to enhance the teaching and learning of the lessons of the Holocaust and the right of all people to be treated with dignity and respect. The Center helps schools fulfill the New York State mandate that the Holocaust and other human rights abuses be included in their curriculum.

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