Holocaust Remembrance at the State Capitol

April 24, 2018

Hearing Holocaust survivor and Fairfield resident Betty Deutsch talk about the night her family arrived at Auschwitz Birkenau was overwhelming. When they arrived by train from Hungary, her father was one of the only ones who could see out of the upper window. He looked out and saw the belching smokestacks and told them, “We came to hell.” She described the piles of dead bodies looking like mountains.

Betty was the keynote speaker at the 40th annual State of Connecticut Holocaust Commemoration held in the state Senate Chamber at the State Capitol.

I was able to sit and talk with Betty after the ceremony and learned that she lived only a few streets away from me in Fairfield. Many of those in attendance came over and told her how moving and impactful her story was.

Betty showed some of us the tattooed numbers still visible on her skin –a6145. She said they all became unrecognizable numbers – and said she could not even recognize her own sister who was next to her.

Rev. Alida Ward, Greenfield Hill Congregational Church led off the service with the invocation. Cantor Deborah Katchko-Gray of Congregation Shir Shalom of Westchester and Fairfield Counties joined violinist Rayhan Pasternak to provide music. Rabbi Marcelo Kormis of Congregation Beth Ell, Fairfield closed with the benediction. This year’s ceremony was led by Adele Jacobs – Commemoration Chair and VP of Voices of Hope. Adele is named Adele Ruth – named after who two grandmothers who survived the Holocaust. Adele’s message: “What we must remember together...this is what hatred can do… Tell the world that Connecticut is no place for hate.” With increasing incidences of anti-Semitism and intolerance occurring right here in Connecticut and around the nation, her words struck me as incredibly timely. It also struck me that legislation recently passed out of the Education Committee, which I supported, to require holocaust and genocide education as part of our social studies curriculum , is incredibly timely as well.

Rayhan Pasternak, Rabbi Marcelo Kormis, Betty Deutsch and Cristin

You can watch the full ceremony on CT-N online. Betty’s remarks begin 28 minutes into the ceremony.