Holocaust survivor Ruth Minsky-Sender speaks to a packed room in the Southampton Building. Photo by Mike Gaisser (April 25, 2018)
Holocaust survivor Ruth Minsky-Sender came to the Ammerman campus on April 25 — her 92nd birthday — to share her experiences during the Nazi occupation of Poland.
She was brought to Auschwitz as a teenager and avoided the lethal gas chambers by being a “fortunate one.” She was sent into a shower instead.
But she didn’t realize she was fortunate at that moment. “When we came into the barracks, there was a woman running around screaming, ‘Your families are being murdered’,” she told a packed room in the Southampton Building.
Minsky-Sender said she regrets not believing the woman at the time.
She said her group could “smell and see the stench and the smoke and everything” happening around it.
Minsky-Sender also had two other close calls with death at the labor camps in Mittelsteine and Grafenort, as she explains in the audio above.
Her mother, Nacha, and younger brother, Laibele, weren’t so lucky. Minsky-Sender would later find out her mother died after being taken away during a Nazi raid in the Lodz ghetto.
Laibele died of tuberculosis in the ghetto. Minsky-Sender doesn’t know what happened to two of her other brothers, Motele and Moishele, after arriving at Auschwitz because men and women were separated.
“I still search for them,” she says. “I get different organizations all over the world trying to reunite families, no matter how they were separated … they tell me to hold on to hope. Maybe we’ll still find them.”
She was reunited with her older siblings, Chanele, Yankele and Mala in Germany after the liberation. They had fled to Russia before the Nazi invasion of Poland.
Minsky-Sender stressed that historians and teachers must teach the Holocaust accurately and not sugar-coat anything.
“No matter how much it hurts, you can’t twist history. You have to tell what it was and how it was,” she said.
As an example, she says that people didn’t know they were going to Auschwitz, as they were told they were simply being “resettled.” But a tour guide at the Museum of Jewish Heritage implied that they knew where they were going.
“If you do research, make sure that you have complete research,” Minsky-Sender said. “I hope that people who teach [the] Holocaust prepare themselves for the pain and tell the pain, and not just twist around which makes it smoother.”
Poet Ashley M. Jones was one of three award-winning authors to headline the undergraduate conference that brought the 2018 Creative Writing Festival at Suffolk County Community College to a close on the Ammerman campus Friday.
She spoke with Suffolk Sentinel about the experience in the podcast above.
The five-day Creative Writing Festival brought together professional writers, teachers and students from SCCC and other colleges across the area to celebrate creative writing.
Friday’s conference day, which was full of workshops, panel discussions, readings from speakers and a ceremony for the Creative Writing Awards for College Writers, had more than 100 attendees.
Jones, winner of the First Book Award for her debut poetry collection “Magic City Gospel,” told the crowd to “keep supporting writing. Make sure writing events keep happening, because people need that outlet to express themselves and understand themselves. It’s just very important.”
Sue Halpern, winner of this year’s inaugural Lawrence J. Epstein Award, read excerpts from her novel “Summer Hours at the Robbers Library.” The award, along with the inaugural SCCC First Book Visiting Writer Award, was intended to bring attention to emerging authors from beyond Long Island, according to the SCCC Creative Writing Festival Committee.
“I hope that students who are interested in writing and in reading will have those interests magnified and maybe be inspired to do more writing themselves,” Halpern said.
Adrian Canham, an English major at SCCC, said he attended the event for the second time because he enjoys creative writing and the festival has opened him up “to new writers and new styles of writing.”
Colin Clarke, an English professor who helped plan the festival, said he was happy with this year’s turnout.
“Events like this … are a tremendous opportunity for our students to be exposed to fresh ideas and perspectives, and it’s heartening that so many students took advantage of this opportunity.”
The results are in and Avagrace Alfieri has been elected as the next Student Government Association president.
In this podcast, Alfieri, who previously served as SGA’s secretary, discusses her plans and hopes for the future.
“There’s always room for improvement, and Suffolk is a great school, and that’s why I’m doing it. Because I want to make sure all the problems that we do have there are problems. I’m not going to sugar-coat it … that they do get solved,” Alfieri said.
The Election ResultsPresident: Avagrace AlfieriSenator: Michael CarnivalSenator: Jordan FlumignanSenator: Yifan JiaSenator: Joseph LaLota IIISenator: Gabriella MayersSenator: Vincent SparagnaSenator: Ozgur Yildirim
Dominique Almodovar plays the drums live with the band You Guys. (Photo courtesy Vinny Metas)
Dominique Almodovar is a Suffolk Community College music major who plays drums in the band You Guys. Almodovar takes pride in her drumming and is inspired by her grandfather, who played professionally with the music legend Tito Puente, known as The King of Latin music.
Almodovar is working on new music with her band and is set to graduate in May.