(From left) San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan, Councilmember David Cohen, Holocaust survivor Tamar Jacobs and Jewish Silicon Valley's Jessica Blitchok. (Photo/Courtesy David Cohen)
(From left) San Jose Mayor Matt Mahan, Councilmember David Cohen, Holocaust survivor Tamar Jacobs and Jewish Silicon Valley's Jessica Blitchok. (Photo/Courtesy David Cohen)

San Jose officials mark International Holocaust Remembrance Day

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At City Hall in San Jose last week, Councilman David Cohen stood next to 94-year-old Holocaust survivor Tamar Jacobs, resplendent in blue velvet, as she held a framed proclamation marking International Holocaust Remembrance Day.

The ceremony was one of several in the South Bay city held with the cooperation of local Jewish organizations, including Jewish Silicon Valley, in conjunction with the global day of remembrance on Jan. 27 — the date Auschwitz was liberated in 1945.

“This wasn’t ancient history. This was just 80 years ago,” Cohen said at the event. “And now, more than ever, it’s important to keep these stories alive, especially as we once again see a rise in antisemitism.”

San Jose also held a press conference that included Mayor Matt Mahan, Holocaust survivor Charles Stevens and Omer Tripp, the grandson of a child saved by the Kindertransport.

“For many, talking about the Holocaust is uncomfortable,” said the newly elected Mahan, 40, who was sworn in on Jan. 1. “And I think that is why we must talk about it.”

In addition, an exhibit from the Holocaust Museum in Los Angeles — “Childhood Left At The Station” — was on display at City Hall from Jan. 24 to 27.

Now more than ever it’s important to keep these stories alive.

Jacobs, who was born in Germany on the eve of the Nazi Party’s meteoric rise to power, recalled being called a “dirty Jew” as a girl and being pelted with rocks thrown by a young boy. She told the San Jose Spotlight three years ago she was lucky to escape the country before being sent to a camp.

“I asked my mother, could she help me,” Jacobs recounted. “She couldn’t, because [the Nazis] were powerful.”

Stevens was born in 1936 in Brussels and, at age 6, was hidden in a Protestant orphanage with his sister.

“I didn’t understand why I was being separated from my parents,” he said of being a hidden child.

Threatened with discovery, the siblings soon had to be moved to a convent in Bruges, Belgium, which is where he grew up

“I didn’t know that I was Jewish,” he said. “In the convent, I went to school, church and played with the other children.”

The press conference also was attended by County Supervisor Susan Ellenberg, Assistant District Attorney Jay Boyarsky, state Assemblymember Gail Pellerin and Jewish Silicon Valley’s Rabbi Hugh Seid-Valencia.