Group Forms for Grandchildren of Survivors

The first WEDU program. Screenshot

By Eleanor Linafelt

As the last living links to the Holocaust, the grandchildren of survivors play a crucial role in preserving and sharing their family’s stories.

The recently-formed 3G Philly organization brings together members of the third generation since the Holocaust to support one another, share their family stories and educate others in Philadelphia and the Delaware Valley on the dangers of intolerance.

Stacy Seltzer, the grandchild of two survivors who just celebrated their 70th wedding anniversary, started 3G Philly in April.

“Our mission is to educate diverse communities about the perils of intolerance and to provide a supportive forum for the descendants of survivors,” Seltzer said. “We feel a deep commitment to know and tell our family stories and to place them within the greater context of the Holocaust.”

There are 3G groups in cities across the world that work together. The first, 3GNY, was founded in New York City in 2005. Seltzer was involved in 3GNY when she lived in New York and, after moving to Boston in 2009, co-founded Boston 3G with her husband. Now living in Philadelphia, Seltzer started 3G Philly to bring together local grandchildren of survivors. There are about 70 members in the fast-growing Philadelphia group.

So far, 3G Philly has run a We Educate (WEDU) program to train the grandchildren of survivors to share their family’s stories. In weekly online trainings, participants learn how to teach others about the Holocaust through personal storytelling. Ultimately, the goal is to have trainees present at local schools and organizations.

WEDU was developed under the guidance of the educational organization Facing History and Ourselves and is supported by the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia.

Seltzer explained that, as a relatively new organization, 3G Philly will continue to develop its initiatives according to the interests of members.

“We want to see what the community feels it needs and wants, and try out different programs to see what sticks,” she said.

Cindy Silverman Chronister was excited to join 3G Philly and participate in WEDU to share the story of her grandparents, her family’s sole survivors during the Holocaust. Her grandfather was an electrician whose store in Vienna, Austria, was destroyed during Kristallnacht. After her grandparents fled to the United States, they talked little of their life in Austria, and Chronister did her own research to piece together their story.

“It has been inspiring to meet and connect with other 3Gs and to hear their families stories of survival,” Chronister said. “It has taught me not only how to educate others by using historical facts along with capturing the personal nature of my family’s story, but to tell it in such a way that is moving, powerful and educational.”

As survivors age, their grandchildren feel an urgency to preserve their stories.
“3Gs are the last living link to survivors and we feel a deep commitment to know and tell our family stories, and to place them within the great context of the Holocaust,” Chronister said. “These personal stories serve as a pathway to educate diverse communities about the perils of intolerance.”

3G Philly has a variety of upcoming events planned this summer.

Their first in-person event, a family-friendly gathering, is scheduled for June 27. It will include a celebration of the newest 3G Philly WEDU trainees and a talk from Sophie Don, a grandchild of survivors and the administrative and operations manager of the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation. Those interested in attending are encouraged to email for location details.

The organization will also continue to hold virtual gatherings. 3G Philly’s Holocaust Education Committee will have its first meeting on June 30 on Zoom, and at the beginning of July, 3G Philly is launching a monthly peer support group for the grandchildren of survivors to discuss everything from generational trauma to antisemitism to talking about the Holocaust with children.

Later in September, 3G Philly will host a reading and Q&A with Rachael Cerrotti, a podcaster and author of the forthcoming book “We Share the Same Sky.” The memoir tracks her experience learning about the story of her grandmother, a Holocaust survivor.


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