A foundation founded by a Vineland family of Holocaust survivors has donated $25,000 to help start a Holocaust collection at Cumberland County College in Vineland.
The Raab Family Foundation gift will help establish the Esther and Irving Raab Holocaust Collection in the college library.
Esther Raab, 91, was one of just 300 Jews who escaped from the death camp in Sobibor, Poland, in 1943. She is the subject of the play “Dear Esther,” which deals with the emotions survivors live with, and was a technical consultant on the CBS-TV movie “Escape from Sobibor.”
The Raabs’ son, Abraham, said they are donating some items to the collection but hope other survivors will also donate memorabilia and books. He said among the materials his family is considering donating are a tapestry his father, who will be 95 in January, made while in prison, and copies of testimony from wartime trials.
“The money will help set up the space and create a process to collect artifacts from the community,” Raab said, noting that many Holocaust survivors settled in the Cumberland County area. “But they weren’t able to bring a lot with them.”
Sue Perry, director of the Cumberland County College Foundation, said that while the donation will help start the collection, they hope that in a planned new college library they can expand it to become a full resource center.
“This gives us a start, to have something,” she said. “Hopefully other local survivors will also have items to add.”
The collection will be dedicated in April during the annual Days of Remembrance of the Holocaust.
“The Holocaust survivors’ stories will continue to inspire us,” college President Thomas Isekenegbe said.
A plaque commemorating the collection will read “The Esther and Irving Raab Holocaust Collection: Dedicated to the Martyrs and Survivors of the Holocaust by the Raab Family Foundation.” The collection has also received the support of the Jewish Federation of Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties.
The Raab Family Foundation has also established other memorials, including the restoration of the Jewish cemetery in their native city of Chelm, Poland, the Holocaust Memorial at Alliance Cemetery in Salem County and the creation of the “Dear Esther” play to educate students.
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