Almost 2,500 Holocaust survivors and their descendants thanked U.S. President Joe Biden for supporting Israel following the Hamas massacre on Oct. 7.
In an Oct. 30 letter, they told the president how meaningful his support was in light of their own experiences.
“Holocaust survivors lived through the worst of human capability. We witnessed the murder of our families, our communities, and the near annihilation of the Jewish people,” they wrote, before expressing their horror at Hamas’s brutal attack.
“Today is different. Today we have Israel. Today we have the United States of America and a president willing to support the State of Israel and denounce antisemitism at home and abroad. Your unwavering affirmation of Israel’s right to defend itself is meaningful to us,” they said.
The signatories included 870 Holocaust survivors, 952 children of Holocaust survivors, 606 grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, and 58 great grandchildren of Holocaust survivors.
Several survivors also wrote their own notes to the president, sharing how the events of recent weeks reawakened their trauma.
“I had trouble sleeping, thinking about all the innocent people in Southern Israel who were tortured, raped, and viciously murdered. It brings back memories of the past to think how mankind could be so cruel,” wrote one.
Shelley Rood Wernick, managing director of the Center on Holocaust Survivor Care and Institute on Aging and Trauma at the Jewish Federations of North America, organized the letter as a way for survivors to express themselves and “regain a small sense of agency.”
Trauma can shatter one’s sense of safety and sense of control over their own destiny, Wernick said.
“Holocaust survivors and many others have been re-traumatized by the attacks,” she said. “At the same time, Holocaust survivors are our models of resilience and strength. Their example will guide the Jewish community as we rebuild.”