I never was a Teenager

"I never was a teenager." That's the line that struck me in a Religion News Service story about some Junior High student who organized a prom for Holocaust survivors. It sounds odd, I know but it's really a remarkable story about small kindnesses.

I've been traveling the past few weeks and so missed this story when it first ran. But it's here on the St. Paul Pioneer Press website (free registration required.)

It all started when a Holocaust survivor named Marsha Kreuzman visited Millburn Middle School in Livington, New Jersey to talk about her experiences.

When she talks to students, she recounts the horrors of the camps: How she was beaten by Nazi soldiers — she still has scars on her back. How she was forced to burn her father's body after he was slain. How she was transferred through six concentration camps, including Auschwitz and Bergen-Belsen.

Kreuzman also talked the small things she missed--like the life of a normal teenager. Worrying about boys and what she might wear to a dance instead worry about getting enough food so she wouldn't starve or whether she'd make it through another day alive.

I say, 'The only thing I really missed was having a bat mitzvah and having a prom,' " she said

So the students decided to give Kreuzam and some of her friends a prom. The idea started out small--just a dance in the school gymn, but then one parent donated the use of his banquet hall, and others follow suit--and soon, as the story reports, 200 Holocaust surivors had beemn invited to "The Prom of Your Dreams."

It turned into a celebtration of life and of surviving. And of hope.

"Look at us here. We are finally attending our senior prom celebration," said Beatrice Glotzer, 75, of Livingston, who grew up in Nazi-occupied Poland. "Each of us is a graduate with high honors from schools where we have been majoring in the art of surviving another day, to see once more the sunrise, try to stay alive and yes, pray."

This prom will not bring back the dead, nor will it solve the kind of senseless violence and cruelty that still exist in the world.

But this group of students and Holocaust survivors made the world a better, more hopeful place, at least for one day. And as one of the survivors told RNS, they were still alive and dancing while the Nazis were rotting in their graves.


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