“Memory in the Living Room” Shoah memorial event at NSW State Parliament

May 6, 2022 by J-Wire Newsdesk
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The bipartisan NSW Parliamentary Friends of Israel have hosted the NSW Parliament’s first-ever “Zikaron BaSalon” (“Memory in the Living Room”) Holocaust memorial event, bringing a small group of NSW MPs and senior parliamentary staff with a local Sydney-based Holocaust survivor.

Front row – Eddy Boas and Dr Marjorie O’Neill
Second row left to right – Nathalie Samia, Scott Farlow, Dr George Foster, Walt Secord and Danny Hochberg

Government Whip in the Legislative Council Scott Farlow, Chair of the Parliamentary Friends of Israel and NSW Labor frontbencher, Walt Secord, who is deputy chair, officially hosted the event in the Legislative Council President’s dining room. This is the location usually reserved for visiting royals and other dignitaries.

The event was part of a global campaign to bring Holocaust survivors into intimate conversations with communities. Zikaron BaSalon is a social initiative of informal gatherings in private homes and other situations around Yom Hashoah where participants listen together to the testimonies of Holocaust survivors and descendants of Holocaust survivors, share readings and thoughts and hold open discussions. Hundreds of thousands of such gatherings events are held in private salons in Israel, the United States, Canada and Australia. Since 2011, more than two million people in Israel and abroad have participated in the project.

Dutch-born Australian Holocaust survivor Eddy Boas told the incredible story of the survival of his immediate family – his mother, father, brother and himself – through the Holocaust. MPs and their staff were moved by Mr Boas’s family’s experiences, including their deportation to Westerbork concentration camp, hellish train journeys in cattle wagons, internment at Bergen-Belsen, and their return to Holland, where they discovered their home had been stolen.

Given the passage of time, the only survivors left to tell their stories are child survivors like Eddy Boas.

Several state MPs and staff attended the event, including the Member for Coogee, Dr Marjorie O’Neill and the Member for Canterbury Sophie Cotsis.

The event was co-sponsored by the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants, which were represented by Board vice-president Nathalie Samia and Association president Dr George Foster who was accompanied by his wife, Margaret and granddaughter, Alissa Foster, who is vice-president of the Australasian Union of Jewish Students. NSW Jewish community activist Danny Hochberg also spoke.

Mr Gabriel Sassoon, senior adviser to Mr Secord, recited the Yizkor prayer in remembrance of the six million murdered in the Shoah.

Mr Farlow said: “It was an honour and a privilege to host the first Zikaron BaSalon at NSW Parliament.

Mr Boas was an engaging and moving speaker and MPs had the chance to ask detailed questions about his experiences during the Holocaust – which was invaluable.

I want to thank our partners – the NSW Jewish Board of Deputies and the Australian Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Descendants for their contributions.”

Walt Secord said: “I have heard and read dozens of personal stories of survival during the Shoah. Each time, I marvel at the bravery and gentle kindness of survivors who want to share their experiences in the hope of spreading the message of `never again’.

It is extraordinarily important that everyone in the community continues to learn about the horrors of the Shoah. This includes parliamentarians. There is really no substitute for interacting in real-time with a Holocaust survivor.”

Mr Farlow and Mr Secord added that they hoped that Zikaron BaSalon at NSW Parliament would become an annual event.


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