The lives of my parents were shaped and forever affected by their childhood experiences in the Holocaust. My mother, Sarah, was a survivor of Auschwitz death camp and my father, Jackob, suffered in the labor camps. They were true survivors, by any definition.
They experienced and lived to tell of one the most tragic and horrific eras of all time. Despite barriers that made it difficult for them to discuss what they witnessed, they felt strongly that future generations should know of, understand, and recount the story of this fundamental piece of Jewish history.
My mother passed away in 1993 and my father in 2002. To honour their memories and give voice to the stories they emotionally struggled to tell, my husband, David, and I chose to create an endowment in their name.
The Sarah and Jackob Avni Fund supports Holocaust research and education and is intended to honour my parents’ wish that future generations always remember.
My parents were incredible people who put family above everything else. They were warm, loving and kind. They taught us so much about appreciating independence, freedom, and opportunity. My parents rejoiced in our growth and learning and nurtured a loving family atmosphere. As such, we wanted to involve our children, Brenda, Samantha and Jeffrey, in making decisions regarding proposals sent to the Fund. It is also important to us that our children experience first-hand the joy of giving, and assist in helping others to learn about the Shoah.
Daily, we remember and honor my parents and all they stood for by the way we live and embrace the many values they taught. On special occasions and simchas we involve our extended family by inviting contributions to the Fund in lieu of gifts. This is one more way to keep the spirit of my parents alive with us.
They touched our hearts in so many ways. It is imperative for us to keep their legacy alive, and in turn, to remember the millions of others who suffered or perished so tragically during the Holocaust.
Written by: Shimona Petroff (daughter)