Holocaust Survivor Honored for Commitment to School

By Serafini, Kristina | Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, April 25, 2013 | Go to article overview

Holocaust Survivor Honored for Commitment to School


Serafini, Kristina, Tribune-Review/Pittsburgh Tribune-Review


Holocaust survivor Moshe Baran's message was clear during a recent visit to Sewickley Academy's middle school: Don't be passive.

"When you see something's wrong, react. Be aware of what's going on," said Baran, 92, of Squirrel Hill. "We have a country here we should cherish."

Baran and his late wife, Malka, began visiting Sewickley Academy eighth-graders more than a decade ago, to share their stories. Malka died in 2007.

For his and Malka's dedication to the academy, Baran was presented with a certificate of gratitude from students, faculty and staff on April 16. A dogwood tree that stands outside of the academy's middle school was dedicated in the couple's honor.

Sewickley Academy alumnus, past parent and trustee emeritus Jeff Lenchner arranged for the visits to coincide with eighth-grade coursework focusing on literature of the Holocaust, academy spokeswoman Mandi Semple said.

Students listened intently last week in the middle school commons as Baran shared stories about growing up in Horodok, Poland, before the Nazis arrived in 1942.

He was sent to the Krasny ghetto and forced labor camps in Belorussia, now Belarus, in eastern Europe during World War II.

During that time, his mental state was like "a caged animal who worried only about when the next drop of food will come. You don't make any plans. You don't have any vision."

Fresh water was unavailable, he said, and they were forced to drink rainwater that collected in tire tracks after first sifting it through cloth.

Baran eventually escaped with others by digging a hole under a fence and walking several miles to join a resistance movement. …

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