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BBYO Hosts Holocaust Survivor for Virtual Yom HaShoah

On April 21, as part of the commemoration of Yom HaShoah, more than  70 teens and parents joined BBYO Connecticut Valley Region (CVR) on BBYO on Demand, BBYO’s new virtual programming platform, for Zikaron BaSalon (Hebrew for “Memories in the Living Room”) to bear witness to the testimony of Holocaust survivor Andy Sarkany of New Haven. 

Sarkany spoke about his experience growing up as a young boy in Hungary during the Holocaust. He shared stories about life in the Ghetto, his experiences in school as one of few Jewish children, and about reuniting with his father after he was liberated from a concentration camp. “It was incredible hearing such a profound account of survival through one of the world’s darkest times,” said Nathan Zakim of Fairfield. “Andy had such a difficult childhood in occupied Hungary, and his family’s story is inspiring.”

After Sarkany shared his story, a BBYO member sang “Eli, Eli” and teens shared stories of their own activism to keep the stories and memories of the Holocaust alive. 

BBYO member Dara Sadinsky of West Hartford shared her experience testifying at the State Capitol in 2018 in favor of Senate Bill 452 which made Holocaust and genocide education mandatory in all Connecticut public schools. Woodbridge teen Jenna Zamkov remarked how listening to Sarkany made her motivated to want to continue raising awareness about the Holocaust. “The reason we listen to stories and share them is to make sure we never forget and that this never happens again,” Jenna said.

Before closing out the event, Sarkany shared some words of wisdom that he wanted all of the teens to remember even during this difficult time, “The door is open to do what you want in life, it is up to you. There is no limit. I used to say the sky is the limit, but not now, now there is no limit.”  

The Zikaron Basalon event is just one of the programs happening on BBYO on Demand. Since the outbreak of the coronavirus, BBYO has transitioned from an event-driven organization to an organization focused exclusively on connectivity, and launched BBYO On Demand, a 24/7 virtual hub in which any Jewish teen can create or participate. Called a “Jewish Netflix for live-streamed programming” by the press, BBYO On Demand gives teens worldwide access to an innovative digital space filled with activities, events, and experiences they can tune into from anywhere, anytime. 

These experiences include art classes, video game tournaments, book clubs, chapter meetings, coffee house/open mic performances, cooking demonstrations, community service projects, prayer services, e-sport tournaments, TikTok challenges, voter registration drives, and more. Since launching the platform, more than 50,000 users have participated in 2,500 programs in just under five weeks. Additional information about the range of programs being held on BBYO on Demand can be found on the BBYO on Demand website, azabbg.bbyo.org/on-demand/home.

Interested participants can contact BBYO Connecticut Valley Regional Director Jennifer Kruzansky at JKruzansky@bbyo.org, and follow @BBYOInsider on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and Snapchat, to stay up to date on events and information.

Main Photo: BBYO on Demand’s Zikaron BaSalon commemorating Yom Hashoah, featured Andy Sarkany, top row, second from the right, speaking to BBYO CVR members about his experiences during the Holocaust.

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