On Friday December 9th, 2015 Brenda Perelman, a Holocaust survivor, visited Port Richmond High School and told the students about her story of perseverance and triumph.
Mrs.Perelman grew up in a Jewish family in a village in Poland. Mrs. Perelman was forced to wear a Jewish star that identified her as a Jew. Mrs.Perelman and her family tried to protect themselves from the Nazis by hiding in a forest and in people's homes. It was too dangerous for Mrs. Perelman’s baby brother Pinchus to hide with them, so Mrs. Perelman’s parents were forced to hide Pinchus with a Polish Christian couple. Although they tried to keep Pinchus safe, he was shot by the Nazis just a month before his second birthday. Mrs.Perelman became emotional as she told this story. She identified it as the most tragic event of the Holocaust. “ It bothers me that I am here and he's not,” stated Mrs.Perelman.
Mrs. Perelman does not hold any anger towards the Nazi’s for the tragic events she experienced.“ If you cannot forgive you cannot move on because you will harvest negativity within you...If you hold on to bitterness it is not good because you will affect yourself and the people around you in a negative way,” advised Mrs. Perelman. While Mrs. Perelman does not hold onto anger, she did hold onto special mementos that were hidden by her father before they were forced to flee Poland.
Her dad buried silver cups and other items in their yard. When the Holocaust was over, Mrs. Perelman went back to her home in Poland and dug up these mementos. The cups serve as a memory of what Mrs.Perelman has survived, and as a memory of her father. Keeping this piece of history alive means a lot to Mrs.Perelman and her family.
Mrs. Perelman’s life today is much different than it was in the past. She now lives in Staten Island where she has a successful marriage, successful children, and grandchildren. Mrs.Perelman is a retired teacher and says she enjoys spending time with her family. Mrs. Perelman expressed pride for the life she was able to put together, and she is very thankful and grateful for the opportunities she has had, “ I feel like I have special qualities, I appreciate everything I have acquired,” stated Mrs. Perelman. Mrs. Perelman is a special survivor.
Mrs. Perelman with Port Richmond Students and Faculty from Wagner College.