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Holocaust Survivor Max Eisen Draws Hundreds to Remembrance Day Talk

Plus, Momentum launches global campaign to pray for health care workers and environmentalists debate whether COVID-19 will have any impact on how people respond to the climate change crisis

Steve Klein
Steven Klein
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Max Eisen discussing his experiences during the Holocaust during a Zikaron BaSalon event for Holocaust Remembrance Day.
Max Eisen discussing his experiences during the Holocaust during a Zikaron BaSalon event for Holocaust Remembrance Day, April 2020.Credit: Steven Klein/Screenshot
Steve Klein
Steven Klein

TO THE MAX: While Israel’s public squares and schoolyards were unusually empty this Holocaust Remembrance Day, many individuals turned the coronavirus crisis into an opportunity to create their own commemorations. When Canadian-Israeli Tzipporah Eisen heard from a friend about Zikaron BaSalon, which helps people host remembrance events at home, she hit on the idea of hosting her grandfather Max Eisen, a 91-year-old Holocaust survivor living in Toronto. “I did a tutorial with the project organizer,” she told Haaretz, which helped her decide how to structure the Zoom meeting. Over 600 viewers on Facebook and another 150 on Zoom heard Max recount how he survived Auschwitz-Birkenau, the death march in January 1945 and time as a forced laborer, as well as his experiences as a seasoned Holocaust speaker. “A lot of viewers were more emotional than he was,” she noted. Max Eisen has an award-winning memoir “By Chance Alone” and recently appeared on a “60 Minutes” program about creating 3-D holograms of survivors.

SAY A LITTLE PRAYER: Momentum, which empowers women to change the world through Jewish values, just launched “Care with a Prayer,” a global campaign to pray for health care workers fighting against the coronavirus. Anyone can visit the Care with a Prayer website to request the name of a health care worker to pray for, or to submit such names to have someone pray for them. Momentum founder Lori Palatnik told Haaretz she had reached out to Dr. Louis M. Profeta, an emergency physician practicing in Indianapolis, Indiana, to see how he was coping – and he told her he was scared. “This is a man who’s not a scaredy-cat,” the Toronto native said. “He knows he’s not only risking his own life but his family’s.” Inspired by a project in which she prayed for a specific soldier’s well-being, Palatnik took on this project for Momentum. “We were thinking: doctors, nurses, all the ambulance drivers – they’re all soldiers on the front line,” she said. “Praying is something everybody can do to support them and to connect to each other.”

WILL COVID-19 CHANGE CLIMATE CHANGE? One positive consequence of the current pandemic has been the dramatic reduction in greenhouse gases. To mark Earth Day on Wednesday, advocacy group Israel 21c’s Israel director, Nicky Blackburn, hosted a webinar on what COVID-19 can teach us about our environment. She held a conversation followed by a Q&A session with expert speakers Prof. Alon Tal and Prof. Colin Price, both from Tel Aviv University. Price noted that while the impact of the coronavirus is short-term, climate change poses “many dangers we will be facing in the future if we don’t take care of it.” Tal said psychology keeps us from taking climate change as seriously as the coronavirus. “We all know it in an abstract way, but we really don’t believe it until we see it,” he said. “We are looking for a magic bullet for the coronavirus in a vaccine,” he added. “For greenhouse gases – once they are out, there is no magic bullet. Most will be in the atmosphere 100 years from now.”

Rank and File was compiled by Steven Klein.

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