Why I Keep Attending WFJHS&D Conferences

In the Jewish community and even in the survivor community…not everyone sees the world through the same lens.

And lots of folks have different reasons for attending the annual WFJHS&D conference being held this year in St. Louis on Oct 30-November 2.

Some come in memory of their parents and grandparents.

Some come to support their parents and grandparents who are attendees.

Some come to learn more about how their lives and families have been affected by Shoah.

Some come to share similar life experiences with other attendees who ‘get them’ and ‘understand them’.

Some come just to hang out with old friends and meet new ones.

Those are just a few of the reasons.

I kind of stumbled into my first WFJHS&D conference back in 2013.  It was held in Las Vegas (my current residence) and given my ‘profession’ revolves around gambling, it just so happened I was scheduled to be out West.

My survivor father is typical in many ways of a survivor.  Proud and stubborn.  Especially the stubborn part, which I chalk up to his Austrian heritage.

And he’d been attending this conference since 2005 in Amsterdam but had never mentioned it to me until before we figured out we’d coincidentally be in Vegas at same time.  He doesn’t like to ask…for help, for support, for anything.

So I popped into the 2013 conference in Vegas.  Had no idea what to expect.  And looking back, I really didn’t do much participating.  But I showed up.

Next year was in Berlin.  My sister, about to become a docent at the Illinois Holocaust Museum and Education Center, joined my father and me in Germany.  We participated and had a meaningful trip.

Over the years, my Dad has struck up a wonderful friendship with Jackie Young…whose survival story is beyond amazing.  They greatly look forward to seeing each other every year.

I also enjoy seeing Jackie annually.  Last May, I visited him and his lovely wife Lita while in London.

And since this blog has blabbed on…will just state that I’ve gone to Houston, LA, Jerusalem, West Palm Beach, and Vancouver in the subsequent years since Vegas and Berlin.  Haven’t missed a conference since I first attended and don’t plan on it anytime soon. 

For me, this has become an annual father-son road trip I am blessed to look forward to each year in different parts of the world.

See you in St. Louis!

David Gutfreund

David runs the twitter account, WFJHS&D 1G/2G/3G/4G@wfjcshd Official Twitter feed of The World Federation of Jewish Holocaust Survivors & Descendants.

Kurt Gutfreund

Lita and Jackie Young

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