Gala honors hundreds of Holocaust survivors in Brooklyn

BATH BEACH, Brooklyn — Shirley Hartman is turning 101 in a few days and the highlight of her year, according to her daughter, is attending the largest holiday celebration for Holocaust survivors in New York.

More than 500 Holocaust survivors attended this gala at the Haym Salomon Assisted Living Facility in Brooklyn on Sunday. It’s a chance to remember a shared past and see old friends.

“She lived as a gentile, in Hungary and in the ghetto in World War II,” Esther Hartman, the survivor’s daughter, told PIX11. “Originally, there were nine children. Five of them made it through the war. She had four brothers. They all passed away. She was the oldest,”

This holiday party is a free event sponsored by Met Council, the largest Jewish communal social safety net in America. There was dining and dancing and lots of great music.

“These folks have seen the worst of humanity and now they celebrate the best of humanity,” David Greenfield, the CEO of Met Council, told PIX11. “Some of them have no family and friends. Many have died in the Holocaust. During holiday season, we give them a first class celebration."

Zoltan Matish survived Buchenwald to meet the love of his life, Mira. They’ve been married now for 60 years and this gathering is so important to both of them.

"It was a beautiful event, great music and great food," Mira,  speaking in Yiddish, told PIX11, through a translator.

One of the event producers, Gershy Moskowitz said, “it’s the time of the year to celebrate the miracle of Hanukkah and it’s also the time to sing and dance and celebrate that we are here right now."