Alumni Spotlight: Marlene Goldstein (’16, ’18, ’19), HMTC Adults, USA

Marlene Goldstein (HMTC Adults ‘16, ‘18, ’19), Author

During this holy period of the Yamim Noraim, leading up to Yom Kippur, this week, we are proud to feature Marlene Goldstein (’16, ’18, ’19), alumna from the The Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County (HMTC) Adults group, whose experience on the March of the Living inspired her to write a memoir detailing her father’s story as a Holocaust survivor. As the one-year anniversary of his death approaches on Yom Kippur, Marlene encourages all to listen and re-tell survivors’ stories, before it is too late.

I was already well into my 50’s when, on a whim, I answered a Facebook pop-up and spoke with Andrea Bolender, leader of the MOTL Long Island HMTC group. I didn’t know at the time how life changing that moment would become.
Auschwitz tracks… stones at Treblinka… mound of ashes at Majdanek… all remnants of a vibrant people whose blood flows through my veins. I recall sitting in the hotel steam room after a day that included standing inside the gas chamber at Majdanek. I tried to imagine the horror and anguish of my Jewish brethren as they entered this awful chamber, naked and terrified, never to see the light of day again. Now in the steam room my eyes traced the pipes along the wall and ceiling, pipes that ended at the floor where they emitted the aromatherapy vapor I was breathing in. A shocking parallel, and I wept for my fallen brethren.

Back home in New Jersey, I was driven to interview my Polish father, and the book that resulted took two years to complete. I was to repeat The March twice more with Andrea, each trip compelling me to urge others to seek out and capture eyewitness accounts.

My MOTL experience with the HMTC group was the driving force that led to the memoir in my hands, the story of my father’s incredible survival against impossible odds. When he passed away peacefully last Yom Kippur, I realized how close I’d come to having his story lost forever, along with the 6 million other lost stories.

Going on the March of the Living rescued my dad’s Shoah legacy from oblivion. There are still survivors out there who are willing – even needing – to tell their story. Every Shoah survivor is an eyewitness to mankind’s darkest hour. But time grows short. It is my hope that every person who reads this will seek out a remaining eyewitness story and capture it before time runs out altogether.