By Samantha Schnupp
Two Chappaqua residents who have dedicated themselves to widening the reach of Holocaust education will be among those honored this week by the U.S Holocaust Memorial Museum.
The museum will recognize Stacey Saiontz and Howard Unger at Wednesday evening’s What You Do Matters 2020 New York Tribute Virtual Event, as they are two of its most passionate supporters who help keep alive the memory of those who perished in the Holocaust and educate the next generation. They are also this year’s recipients of the museum’s National Leadership Awards.
The annual event, which was forced to go virtual this year, allows the museum a meaningful way to honor their courage and show their gratitude. Diane von Furstenberg will serve as emcee for the evening.
Since the event is virtual this year, the museum chose to recognize the honorees over the last 10 years to highlight their support of the museum despite the physical distance required during the pandemic, said Monika Levin, a spokeswoman for the event.
Saiontz, who was the 2019 honoree, said she was excited to receive the recognition.
“The museum is so important because it allows people to see what it was like and is able to keep the history of the Holocaust (alive) for generations to come,” said Saiontz, who is also a co-chair of New Castle’s Holocaust and Human Rights Committee and worked with Ally Rosenberg to unveil the town’s Holocaust memorial last November.
“Now more than ever the museum allows us to watch what is happening in different parts of the world with genocide and what we can do to raise awareness and prevent something like the Holocaust from happening again.”
Saiontz is the granddaughter of Jack Feldman, who survived the Holocaust and was featured in the HBO documentary “The Number on Great Grandpa’s Arm.” The documentary includes film of her grandfather’s recollections of the horrors, capturing searing details and insight into what he endured.
Saiontz serves on the museum’s Education Committee and has been a member of its New York Next Generation Board for over 15 years.
Unger, one of two honorees from 2014, grew up hearing the story of his father’s survival at the Auschwitz and Dachau concentration camps, which inspired him to become involved in bringing awareness of modern-day genocide to the current generation.
Unger currently serves multiple roles for the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum including chair of its Audit Committee and as a member of its Executive Committee, Strategic Advancement Committee and Committee on Conscience.
“The museum allows people to understand what these survivors went through and what exactly led up to the Holocaust,” Unger said. “Every survivor experienced this historic event differently. Now, more than ever, understanding why this happened plays a crucial part in preventing something like it from happening again in the future.”
Work that the honorees have engaged in includes maintaining and salvaging the evidence of the Holocaust, while others focus on genocide prevention or combating global anti-Semitism. Some have taken on significant leadership roles within the institution, all committed to preserving the memory of the Holocaust and ensuring its lessons reach new generations.
Wednesday’s What You Do Matters 2020 New York Tribute Virtual Event begins at 6 p.m. The event is free to view but registration is required at https://www.ushmm.org/online-calendar/event/nytrbutedinner1020?utm_source=ushmm&utm_medium=pressrelease&utm_campaign=nytributedinner2020.