Kristallnacht speakers: 'I am my Brother's Keeper'
October 23, 2007
LEWISBURG, Pa. — Bucknell University will host the talk, "I Am My Brother's Keeper: Genocide, Past and Present," Friday, Nov. 9, at 8 p.m. in the Forum of the Elaine Langone Center.
David Gewirtzman, a Holocaust survivor, and Jacqueline Murekatete, an emigre from Rwanda, will speak about their experiences as witnesses to and survivors of ethnic hatred and atrocities.
Gewirtzman survived the Holocaust by hiding in a small trench under a pigsty on a Polish farm for 20 months with seven other members of his family. They did not escape until July 31, 1944, when the Nazis retreated. He was one of just 16 out of 8,000 Jews to survive the Holocaust from the small Polish town of Losice.
Gewirtzman and his family lived in Europe for several years, then came to the United States in 1948. A 75-year-old retired pharmacist from Long Island, he and his wife have two grown sons. He volunteers at the Nassau Holocaust Memorial Center in Long Island.
When Gewirtzman spoke at a high school in Queens several years ago, Jacqueline Murekatete was a student in the audience. She wrote to him, relating her own story of surviving genocide.
Rwandan genocide survivor
Murekatete's family were members of a Tutsi tribe. When the Hutu president was killed in April 1994, groups of Hutu men and boys began killing Tutsis. Murekatete, who was visiting her grandmother in a nearby village, escaped being killed.
Murekatete went to an orphanage where, two months later, she learned from surviving cousins that her family - her mother, father, two sisters, and four brothers - had been tortured and hacked to pieces with machetes. Her family, including her grandmother, were among the 800,000 killed.
Murekatete was brought to New York in October 1995 by an uncle who legally adopted her, applied for political asylum for her, and placed her in a fifth-grade class in Queens. She graduated in May from New York University. Murekatete has volunteered with the non-profit organization Miracle Corners of the World since 2003; earlier this year she founded Jacqueline's Human Rights Corner, which aims to help genocide survivors and victims rebuild their lives.
"Gewirtzman and Murekatete are traveling throughout the country, talking with audiences in an effort to make people aware of the horrors of the past, and to highlight that the nightmare of genocide still continues for many, especially right now in places like the Sudan," said Rabbi Serena Fujita, Jewish chaplain at Bucknell.
The talk, which is free to the public, is part of the University's annual observance of Kristallnacht, sponsored by Campus Jewish Life; Office of Chaplains and Religious Life; Multicultural Student Services; International Student Services; and the departments of religion, political science and education.
Kristallnacht marks the beginning of the Holocaust in Germany when organized gangs of Nazi youth roamed through Jewish neighborhoods on Nov. 9 and 10, 1938, breaking windows of Jewish businesses and homes, burning synagogues, and looting.
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