With anti-Semitism on the rise, a Westchester wife and mother is doing her part to keep the memories of the Holocaust alive in a very personal way.
Chappaqua resident Stacey Saiontz whose paternal grandparents survived the Holocaust is being honored by the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum.
As a young girl, Saiontz began to ask her grandfather Jack Feldman questions and he would share stories with her including about his time spent in the Auschwitz concentration camp.
Through the years, Saiontz filmed his memories and captured details and insight into the tragedies he endured. Then when she married her husband Marc Saiontz, they made a donation to support the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum. Soon after, in 2004, Stacey Saiontz became one of the founders of the museum’s New York Next Generation board.
In 2018, HBO released a documentary inspired by the special relationship between Stacey Saiontz's grandfather, Jack, and her sons, Elliott and Jared.
“The Number on Great-Grandpa’s Arm,” is shown to young audiences and people of all ages to teach them about the critical lessons of the Holocaust.
Saiontz will be honored with the National Leadership Award at the “What You Do Matters” New York Tribute Dinner Oct. 28 in New York City.
Against the backdrop of the rise in antisemitism— recently in a White Plains diner wore a baseball cap with a swastika on it and hate graffiti was found on the Holocaust Garden of Remembrances—more than 450 guests are expected to attend the dinner to support the museum’s Never Again: What You Do Matters national campaign to keep the Holocaust memory alive.
“Stacey Saiontz has emerged as one of our most dedicated young leaders, driven by her passion for preserving Holocaust history and promoting Holocaust education for future generations,” said the museum's assistant director of Development and Operations, Sindy Lugerner.
Saointz attended the museum's 20th anniversary with her family. "My grandfather walked our son Elliott through the children’s exhibition, Daniel’s Story, and was able to share pieces of his personal story as it related to Daniel’s story with him,” said Saiontz.
And this past April, her family visited the museum again. This time, it was during the annual Days of Remembrance. Feldman, now 93, walked her younger son, Jared, through the same exhibition.
"My grandfather cannot believe that his now 13-year-old grandchild is the same age he was when his world was turned upside down and he was taken from his family and sent to a series of Nazi labor and death camps," Saiontz said.
"He is so happy that he survived and is here today with the large and loving family he created to be able to see his granddaughter given the honor from the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum for consistently helping to educate the world on the lessons of the Holocaust including the dangers of hate, the perils of indifference, and the importance of taking action," said Saiontz.
"The museum serves as a moral compass, and is one of the most important institutions that we have, especially today as the number of survivors is dwindling."
Feldman will attend the dinner with his family. He is "proud of me and touched," Saiontz said.
“I want my grandfather and all survivors to feel confident that the next generation will never let their stories fade," she said.
Asked what she would say to anyone worried about anti-Semitism in their communities, Saointz quoted Elie Wiesel. "The opposite of love is not hate. It is indifference."
"You must take action. We need to continue to educate the next generations and the world about the lessons of the Holocaust. The Holocaust did not start with the gas chambers and killing, it started with hate. We need to teach people to stand up to hate whenever they hear it and where ever they see it and speak out," she continued.