The human cruelty of the Holocaust is almost too much to comprehend. Couple that with the now frequent image of swastikas appearing on buildings and playgrounds, the more than 100 bomb threats that were called into Jewish community centers and the vandalism that occurred in Jewish cemeteries this past year, the question emerges: How do survivors bear it? One way is through hatred’s antidote: community.
Selfhelp Community Services, which operates the oldest and largest program serving Holocaust survivors in North America, fosters this fellowship by, among other things, arranging monthly lunches where groups of New York City survivors socialize. The camaraderie was clear at a recent Holocaust Remembrance Day lunch in Brooklyn, which featured a program of readings, conviviality and song.
Later, in a room to the side, attendees posed for portraits by photographer Giovana Schluter and answered the question: “What would you most want people today to know or understand from your experience?”
Giovana Schluter is a portrait and documentary photographer, based in the South Bronx, in New York City.
Karen Schwartz is a writer and a contributing editor to Marie Claire magazine.