Children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors gathered at Grimaldi’s Pizzeria in Old Town Scottsdale on Jan. 19 for a “Celebrating Life” pizza party.

The party was the first official social event for Generations After, a group for children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors that operates under the auspices of the Phoenix Holocaust Survivors’ Association. 

“Our hope for this event was to get survivors, second and third generations together for our first social party,” says Laurie Schwartz, event chairperson, in an email. “I believe that objective was really accomplished. Our range of attendees went from members ... in their 70s and 80s to third-generation attendees under 10 years old. A very eclectic mix of ages all with a common thread.”  

In addition to educational programs and social events, Generations After offers monthly discussion groups for children and grandchildren of Holocaust survivors. The sessions, led by a professional facilitator, are a place where 2Gs and 3Gs (second- and third-generations) can share personal accounts of growing up with survivor parents or grandparents and to explore the impact of those experiences. The next session is Feb. 5 (see details box).

About half of the nearly 60 guests arrived early to watch a staged reading of “Say Yes to Life,” a new play about the Holocaust written by Mesa resident Virginia Fleishans. The play is based loosely on the real-life experiences of Kurt Bronner, a Holocaust survivor who now lives in California with his wife, Rosza. Valley resident Paula Shulak had met Bronner two years ago at  an Elderhostel program about Crypto Jews in New Mexico and was so intrigued by his story that she asked permission to share his story with Fleishans.  

The cast included Mark Hackman, Rabbi Susan Schanerman, Grant Shapiro and Pam Cohen. The play follows the life of two survivors as they search for meaning and begin a new life in America.

“Say Yes to Life” will be produced again in April as part of Prescott’s Yom Hashoah commemoration, according to Shulak. The reader’s theater group Tomorrow’s Theatre Tonight will perform it at 7 p.m. Thursday, April 24, at the Prescott Library, and Temple B’rith Shalom will also have a production as part of its April 25 Shabbat service. Both performances are free.

As she compiled research for the play, Fleishans, who is not Jewish, flew out to meet the Bronners, Shulak said. “This was a totally new area for Fleishans and she did a great deal of research about the Holocaust and the time period from then until now in order to understand the significance of Bronner’s experiences,” Shulak wrote in a release about the play. “Her new understanding added greatly to the script.”

DETAILS

What: Discussion group for children and grandchildren of survivors facilitated by Phyllis Palm

When: 7-9 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 5

Registration required: hgold52@aol.com

What: BookTalk: “Second Hand Smoke” by Thane Rosenbaum 

When: 2 p.m. Sunday, March 30

Who: Generations After

Where: Ina Levine Jewish Community Campus, 12701 N. Scottsdale Road, Scottsdale

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