On Thursday, September 15, the Flagstaff Community came out to the Molly Blank Jewish Community Center for a special event.

Holocaust survivor Esther Basch shared a personal account of her harrowing experience in the Auschwitz death camps. She told her unique story of the horrific atrocities she experienced and her journey of survival and forgiveness. Esther’s powerful story captivated the audience of close to 300 people. She shared her genuine universal love of humanity, which helped her survive her own nightmare. Esther’s presence radiated a joy for life and an energy that inspired many. After Esther’s hour-long talk, she stayed to meet everyone individually.

Esther Basch is a 94-year-old resident of Prescott. Esther has been dubbed “the Honey Girl of Auschwitz.” She grew up in Czechoslovakia and was sent to Auschwitz in a cattle car on her 16th birthday. After she met Max, one of the American soldiers who liberated her camp, she was motivated to tell her story of survival and forgiveness. Since that time, Esther has given public talks nationwide, which led to the production of “The Honey Girl” documentary that helped her to tell her story globally. Esther has turned her personal commitment to forgiveness into a public act, hoping to transform society on issues of hate and prejudice.

Organizers expressed the importance of the event. “As the Holocaust wanes in our collective memory and many survivors pass on, it is so important to amplify and preserve the first hand accounts of survivors,” said Rabbi Dovie Shapiro.

The event surely brought an added awareness to the many forms of hate experienced in our society and was of great educational value to the Flagstaff community.

The event was co-sponsored by Chabad of Flagstaff and the Martin-Springer Institute of Northern Arizona University.

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