Generous donation helps establish Holocaust collection at Cumberland County College

By Dr. Thomas Isekenegbe

Cumberland County College is honored that the Raab Family Foundation has stepped forward to contribute $25,000 to the college to establish the Esther and Irving Raab Holocaust Collection at CCC’s library. Abe Raab told us recently that the donation is in honor of his parents, Esther and Irving Raab, who are Holocaust survivors now living in Vineland.

It’s certainly appropriate to house the Esther and Irving Raab Holocaust Collection at the college since we continually celebrate the diversity and contributions of the many cultures in our community. Holocaust survivors serve as inspirational role models, teaching us valuable lessons in life by sharing their wisdom with the residents of our community.

In 2007, 138 Holocaust survivors – living in the county – received honorary associate degrees from CCC. This is the highest honor the college can bestow upon individuals. And it’s certainly fitting that they received the degrees because the Holocaust survivors have made a tremendous positive impact in Cumberland County through their professional leadership and community service.

The Holocaust survivors’ stories will continue to inspire us at the Esther and Irving Raab Holocaust Collection, which will be dedicated in April during Days of Remembrance, the national commemoration of the Holocaust. The collection has received the support of the Jewish Federation of Cumberland, Gloucester and Salem counties.

The Esther and Irving Raab Holocaust Collection at CCC will include period pieces, personal artifacts, multi-media presentations, novels and reference materials, some of which residents will be able to check out of the library. Individuals and organizations may donate or loan materials to be displayed in the collection.

This will truly be an educational and emotional tribute to the Holocaust survivors and their stories of hope and strength. Indeed, Esther and Irving Raab have led inspirational lives that can teach us all valuable lessons.

Esther Raab was one of only 300 Jews who, in 1943, rebelled and escaped from the death camp in Sobibor, Poland. In the 1990s, Esther Raab was the subject of the play, “Dear Esther,” which deals with the emotional chains the survivors carried throughout their lives. She was also the technical consultant for the CBS-TV film based on the play, “Escape From Sobibor.”

The Esther Raab story will be among countless inspiring tales of courage that will be featured in the Esther and Irving Raab Holocaust Collection, which will be located in CCC’s present library and moved to the new on-campus CCC library after it is built. The plaque will read: “The Esther and Irving Raab Holocaust Collection: Dedicated to the Martyrs and Survivors of the Holocaust, by the Raab Family Foundation.”

The Holocaust collection will be a lasting legacy, since people of all ages can learn so much from the Holocaust survivors in our community. They are beacons of light and hope for area residents and people throughout the world.