Memory, Remembrance, Commemoration, and Celebration of Life

Memory, Remembrance, Commemoration, and Celebration of Life

A collage at the City Hall with pictures of former Jewish residents of Sighet

The feature article is dedicated to the memory, remembrance and commemoration of the 12,450 deported Jews from Sighet May 16-22,1944; A special tribute for those children who didn’t develop to be pianists, artists, tailors, teachers and scientists- we will never know their talents or if a genius was among them. We the survivors’ children are making sure we celebrate life as we were not supposed to be born!

Fundatia Tarbut Sighet Cultura si Educatie Iudaica (FTS), was established in October 2014 in memory of my late mothers’ Walter family and all other Jewish men, women and children murdered following their deportations to Auschwitz.

The Holocaust one of the most tragic and horrific experiences the Jewish People went through during WW II, had to become a special observance day. Once the State of Israel was established in May 1948, Rabbi Mordechai Nurok, a survivor, Knesset (Israeli Parliament) member and chair of the committee requested an official observance day. In 1951 the Knesset passed a resolution establishing the 27th day of Nisan (Jewish month- corresponds usually to the month of April) as a nationwide observance day called “Yom Ha’Shoah”; however even after the creation of “Yad Va’shem in 1953 – The international Israeli official Holocaust Remembrance Authority Institute” the resolution was not yet officially passed.

Finally, in April 1955 the Knesset passed the law of “Yom HaShoah” (“Holocaust Memorial Day”). The 27th of Nisan was chosen as it was a tribute to the “Warsaw Ghetto Uprising” fighters. The official day was named “Yom Hazikaron la Shoah V’Hagvurah”- “The Memorial Day to the Holocaust and Heroism”. Yom HaShoah 2022 will begin April 27 at sundown and finish April 28 at sundown.

Following setting aside a special day for observance, several other countries where their Jewish communities were deported to camps such as Auschwitz, Transnistria, Majdanek, Treblinka, Terezin etc., have also created a special observance day. France July 16th, remember the mass arrests of 13,152 Jews deported to Auschwitz; Germany January 27th, Memorial Day for the victims of National Socialism; Romania, October 9th Reflect on Bukovina Region Jews deported to Transnistria; Austria May 5th, the day Mauthausen camp was liberated in 1945.  

The one Remembrance Day all nations observe is “The International Holocaust Remembrance Day” on January 27; marking the Auschwitz camp liberation by the Red Russian Army on January 27, 1945, the starting point of the Nazism Regime defeat.

On November 1, 2005, UN General Assembly adopted resolution 60/7 to designate January 27 as International Holocaust Remembrance Day (IHRD), “Commemorating the memory of the victims of the Holocaust”.

In addition, the resolution encourages all UN members to preserve Concentration Camps, refuses any debates with Holocaust Deniers, condemns any religious intolerance and violence against people of ethnic origins or religious beliefs.

Jews memory

Monument in memory of all the Jews who were murdered in Sighet.


I am the daughter of Sighet and Bucharest, Holocaust survivors. My professional career has always been in Jewish education since my arrival in Toronto, Canada. Throughout my childhood upbringing in Israel, I was always surrounded by survivors and their children from across Europe. I always felt proud that my parents survived and therefore I am not a victim but a victorious child. By destiny or by a miraculous intervention I was offered the position to be the Toronto Holocaust Museum Director, serving for over a decade.  Upon my retirement, I decided to dedicate my professional expertise to Fundatia Tarbut Sighet (FTS). 

FTS, was a direct outcome of the 1st. Commemoration 70 years after the deportations to Auschwitz. The organisation undertook to serve two important groups: all descendants of Maramures survivors and Romanian Young Generation over 14 years old.

Auschwitz survivor

Goldie Walter, Solomon- Auschwitz survivor, born in 1926.

FTS, provides Genealogy services, “Family Roots/Routes Journeys”, All Generation International Conferences in Sighet, Observance of Memorial Days and active social media sites

Initially, FTS provided the local and regional high school students with activities related to the Jewish culture Pre- WW II. During COVID-19, zoom presentations brought us to many schools across the country. 

FTS, translates Memoires from Hebrew and English into Romanian, since those that are in the original Romanian language were censured during the Communist era, while the reader misses significant facts about the Romanian Holocaust. Book launches took place in major cities including Bucharest and Tel – Aviv, involving other NGOs not necessarily related to Holocaust Studies but to Human Rights issues etc. 

FTS believes in and attempts to teamwork with other organizations and Municipalities across Romania so that the knowledge of the WW II- Holocaust will be known and the Jewish Heritage sites will be continued to be preserved and restored.

The Romanian government accepted the responsibility of its Holocaust only following the late Profs. Elie Wiesel report in 2002. There is a vast amount of data missing in the Romanian history books which are being used in the educational system. The good news is that during the Romanian November 2021 Senate session the members adopted a mandatory law, starting January 2023 all high schools and vocational schools will be taught a holocaust course.

Mr Silviu Vexler, President of Romania Federation of Jewish Communities, who advocated the law stated “it will counter intolerance and extremism” among youth.

Peninah Zilberman FTS

Peninah Zilberman in a student performance after a week of workshops given by FTS.

I would like to conclude with a personal invitation to each FRH member to come and visit Sighet, located in the most beautiful authentic Romanian region. Pre-WW I the region was ruled by the Austrian-Hungarian Empire, therefore the cities architecture on the main street, reflects those times. There is so much to see, eat, drink and enjoy in this lovely picturesque city of 40,000 inhabitants and only 25 Jews mostly survivors. The Jewish heritage sites include the Memorial Monument, one synagogue left out of 10, Profs. Elie Wiesel Memorial House – Museum of Jewish Culture from Maramures, A typical Jewish Home at the Village Museum, and still many former Jewish homes inhabitant by other Sighet citizens. FTS headquarters has been donated by the Municipality where the former Kahana Court- a central point where Jewish Life thrived was the central point of the Sighet Jewish People.

See you soon, la revedere.

Fundatia Tarbut Sighet (FTS) is a member of The European Association for the Preservation of Jewish Culture and Heritage (AEPJ), Future for Religious Heritage Organization (FRH), Association of Holocaust Organizations (AHO) and A.M.I.R. The United Organization of Romanians in Israel, The Israel Genealogical Society and the Israeli Genealogy Research Association (IGRA)

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