An estimated 6,000 Jewish survivors of the Nazi Holocaust from 23 countries have gathered in jerusalem -- in a one-time happening -- to stress to the world that such horror must never happen again.
"For us this gathering is tha realization of dreams we had in the ghetto and the concetration camps," explained Ernest W. Michel of New York, chairman of the World Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors. He survived Auschwitz Buchenwald.
He said the gathering, organized by individuals with funds from Jewish groups , individuals, and the State of Israel, was "not a four-day memorial service but a celebration that we survived."
It resembled a giant reunion. Crowds of middle-aged men and women -- 3,200 of them now from the United States and Canada -- embraced and exclaimed in a large hall divided into sections by European countries of origin. Some worried about the emotional stress the gathering might cause. Others emphasized the need to remind the world of the Holocast at a time when neo-Nazis deny it happened.
Many participants came with a dream of locating a lost relative. They gathered around computer terminals listing all Israelis and participants in the gathering.
I still hope to find one of my 10 brothers and sisters," said Samuel Miller of Boston, who survived Auschwitz. Two middle-aged women clasped each other. Classmates from Vilna, Lithuania, they had not seen each other since both were taken off to camp 40 years ago.