Intimate Holocaust memorial meetings turn from living rooms to Zoom

Unique “Memory in the Living Room Project,” an Israeli social initiative that has become extremely popular, will take place online this year.  

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

Instead of hosting Holocaust survivors in their living rooms, over a million people are expected to carry on the tradition of sharing personal Holocaust stories through online video conferencing, Israel Hayom reported Sunday.

The Zikaron BaSalon organization (Hebrew for “Memory in the Living Room”) has been organizing home parlor meetings around the world with Holocaust survivors and their families since 2010 in a social initiative to educate people and preserve the history.

People who survived the Nazi attempt to exterminate the Jewish people are hosted in private homes to share their personal accounts and answer questions. The initiative has gained steam over the years as people moved away from attending large and impersonal, government-sponsored memorials to more intimate and meaningful ways to remember the most horrific event to befall the Jewish people.

The coronavirus has stopped some memorial traditions, but not this one, which has only moved online.

“This year, our most important commitment is to protect the safety of the Holocaust survivors, as they are the most vulnerable,” the organizers said on their website. “We are working to ensure that we keep Zikaron BaSalon running and following all the restrictions necessary” and will host meetings using the video conferencing app Zoom.

Over one million hosts in at least 54 countries worldwide will host online parlor meetings, Israel Hayom reported. Meetings will be held across America, which in the past have been hosted by individual U.S. citizens, community centers and organizations, and personalities like former Ambassador to Israel Dan Shapiro.

Rebecca Kahane, 77, was a Jewish baby taken in by a Dutch Christian family during the Nazi occupation of Holland. She wrote a book documenting her story of being hidden with a false identity, the danger to those hiding her and the severe famine they survived before miraculously returning to her parents after the war. She will share her personal account this year online.

“It may be a bit challenging, but the story is more powerful than anything,” Kahane said.

“The story symbolizes our steadfastness as a people in the face of every barrier and difficulty, and nothing is more important than that. “she concluded excitedly.

Although Zikaron BaSalon events happen throughout the year, most are held around International Holocaust Remembrance Day on January 27 and on Israel’s own national day of Holocaust commemoration that begins Monday evening at 8:00 p.m.

The event opening the memorial day is normally held in Jerusalem with the country’s top leaders in attendance.

However, due to health guidelines banning large gatherings the ceremony and speeches were recorded in advance and will be broadcast on television.