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Holocaust mementos to be displayed at Westbury temple

Rene Kornet of Jericho displays some of her

Rene Kornet of Jericho displays some of her family's artifacts from the holocaust. (March 11, 2103) Credit: Newsday / Thomas A. Ferrara

Holocaust survivor Fran Greene recalled a childhood spent in hiding in Nazi-occupied Poland.

She was called Fela Frost then, and she lived in a barn bunker hidden under straw.

Her name was changed when she immigrated to New York in 1949, bringing among her few possessions some photos of her family and herself.

"I look green because I didn't eat very much," Greene, 77, of Woodbury, said of one image taken after World War II.

Greene's battered album will be among the dozens of Holocaust relics belonging to members of Temple Beth Torah in Westbury that will be displayed there in a "pop-up museum" on April 7, Holocaust Remembrance Day. The items' owners -- mostly children of Holocaust and concentration camp survivors -- will share their families' stories.

The public is invited, but the museum is aimed at the temple's Hebrew school students.

"This is the last generation that's still going to be able to have any connection with actual survivors of the Holocaust," museum contributor Harry Rapaport, 66, of Melville, said.

Rapaport was born in the Bad Reichenhall displaced-persons camp in Germany. He now has artwork that hung at the camp featuring the figure "6000000" -- the number of Jews killed in the Holocaust.

"Many Holocaust survivors kept it to themselves because it was too painful," he said. "My father was vociferous and wanted everyone to know what he went through so no one will ever forget and [it will] never be repeated."

His father, Rapaport said, was standing naked in line for the gas chambers at the Treblinka camp in Poland when another prisoner threw him pants and he was able to blend into a clothed group of workers.

Roger Loeb, 62, of Jericho, said he discovered his parents' reminders of the Holocaust when he was cleaning out their home after their recent deaths.

Among the items he will display at the museum is a yellow armband with a Star of David that Jews in ghettos were forced to wear during the war.

Jonathan Tolpin, 46, of Jericho, has a prayer shawl, or tallit, that his grandparents, mother and aunts had when they escaped from Antwerp, Belgium, with diamonds sewn into their clothes for safekeeping.

"They fled to France on foot. Each girl was allowed one suitcase and a gas mask," he said. "The Germans were right on their heels."

Tolpin, his sisters and his cousins have all been married under the tallit as part of a chuppah, or wedding canopy.

Fred Gross, 66, of Melville, whose mother survived Auschwitz and whose father was a Czech soldier fighting the Germans, will display a 150-year-old oil-burning menorah and kiddush cap passed down through generations of his family.

Temple president Renee Kornet, 58, of Jericho, gathered the identity papers of her family, photos of them in concentration camps and letters her parents kept in the drawers of their home and framed them all together.

She hoped to tell a story through the items, she said, "so that not only my children, but other children can understand the history of one family."


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