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Spokane synagogues hosting Holocaust survivor speech, community vigil in wake of Pittsburgh massacre

Oct. 29, 2018 Updated Mon., Oct. 29, 2018 at 8:01 p.m.

Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan is scheduled to speak Tuesday evening at the Spokane Convention Center. (Chabad of Spokane)
Holocaust survivor Marion Blumenthal Lazan is scheduled to speak Tuesday evening at the Spokane Convention Center. (Chabad of Spokane)

One local Jewish congregation will host a speech by a Holocaust survivor on Tuesday evening, and another will host a community vigil in the wake of Saturday’s hate-filled massacre at a synagogue in Pittsburgh.

Beginning at 7 p.m. at the Spokane Convention Center, Chabad of Spokane will host a vigil and speech by Marion Blumenthal Lazan, who was interned as a child at the notorious Bergen-Belsen concentration camp in Germany.

Rabbi Yisroel Hahn said Lazan’s appearance in Spokane was planned months ago, but her message of faith and perseverance will be especially important following the murders of 11 people at Pittsburg’s Tree of Life synagogue.

“I can’t imagine a better messenger to come and speak out against hate,” Hahn said.

The Blumenthal family – Marion, her brother and their parents – managed to escape Germany at the outset of World War II, but they were captured during the Nazi occupation of the Netherlands and spent more than six years in concentration camps, including Westerbrook and Bergen-Belsen – the same camp where Anne Frank died of typhus in 1945.

“Actually, my story is one that Anne Frank might have told had she lived,” Lazan says in a biography on her website.

Although the Blumenthals survived the camps, Marion’s father died of typhus shortly after liberation. It took another three years for the others to get their papers and board a ship for the United States.

Now in her 80s and living in New York, Lazan has kept a busy schedule speaking about the Holocaust at schools, places of worship and other organizations. She also co-authored a memoir titled “Four Perfect Pebbles: A Holocaust Story” and was the subject of a 2003 PBS documentary titled “Marion’s Triumph.”

In a 2015 speech captured in an online video, Lazan implored an audience of young students to share her story and those of other Holocaust survivors.

“When we are not here any longer, it is you who will have to bear witness,” she said. “The horror of the Holocaust must be taught, must be studied and kept alive. Only then can we guard it from ever happening again.”

Tickets for Lazan’s speech in Spokane cost $18 at TicketsWest.com. The price at the door will be $20.

Chabad of Spokane hosted another Holocaust survivor, Nissan Krakinowski, at the convention center in June. The 91-year-old Lithuanian immigrant, who survived the horrors the Dachau concentration camp, died in September after he was struck by a car while crossing the street in Brooklyn.

Two other Spokane organizations, Temple Beth Shalom and Congregation Emanu-El, plan to host a community vigil at 5:30 p.m. Tuesday at the temple at 1322 E. 30th Ave.

“We send prayers of comfort and consolation to the families of those who have died and to those wounded, including the police officers who risked their lives responding, and to the entire Jewish community of Pittsburgh,” they said in a statement. “We will not let fear and anti-Semitism keep us from living full and meaningful Jewish lives.”

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