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Holocaust Remembrance Day

Sunday marks Holocaust Remembrance Day around the world, a day to remember six million Jews who died in World War Two.

The  Jewish Federation of Greater Rochester hosts a program at the JCC in Brighton, which  includes the descendant of a Portuguese official who helped refugees escape from Nazi occupied France. As the Portuguese Consul-General stationed in Bordeaux, France, Aristides de Sousa Mendes helped thousands of refugees escape from Nazi-occupied France by issuing visas to neutral Portugal, against the explicit orders of his government.

Keynote speakers Louis-Philippe Mendes, grandson of Aristides de Sousa Mendes, and Dr. Olivia Mattis, descendent of Sousa Mendes’ visa recipients. 

Local survivors of the holocaust are also thinking about that tragic time including Lea Malek,  former owner of Malek's Bakery. She was just five years old when she and her family from Hungary were sent to a work farm. Many of her relatives didn't survive the war.

Malek says when she operated her business; she really didn't talk much about her experiences. 

“I didn’t talk about it for many, many years and after I retired and sold my business and I finally started to talk about it many, many of my ex-customers said to me, ‘I never knew it’. “

But now, Malek says as more and more Holocaust survivors die each year, it's important for those who remember  to talk about their experiences so that future generations realize what they must do to prevent further genocide.  

“I would like people to remember every day, not only this day because I think it’s very important, because like everything else,  people…say that it never happened, and you know what happens when we forget things, (we) repeat it .“

“We’re all getting older, and every year is less survivors, and I owe it to my children, I owe it to my grandchildren. Do I like to do it? No. Does it make me bad, horrible memories? Yes. But we have to do it because lots of people think it’s never happened. “

Sunday's program at the JCC on Edgewood Avenue in Brighton  starts at 4pm. The service will also include prayers, music and a candle lighting ceremony with local survivors of the Holocaust and their families.

The service will also include prayers, music and a candle lighting ceremony with local survivors of the Holocaust and their families

Randy Gorbman is WXXI's director of news and public affairs. Randy manages the day-to-day operations of WXXI News on radio, television, and online.