Museum of Jewish Heritage pays tribute to Holocaust survivors who died amid pandemic

Michael Baran
Michael Baran Photo credit Ruth Baran

NEW YORK (WCBS 880) — On this Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Museum of Jewish Heritage is launching a new tribute site dedicated to sharing the stories of Holocaust survivors who lost their lives over the last year amid the global pandemic.

Among those being remembered is Michael Baran, who passed away on April 17, 2020.

COVID didn't kill the 97-year-old from Forest Hills, but with the hospitals crushed last spring, his daughter said Baran stopped his treatment for kidney failure to protect his family.

He checked into hospice for the last three weeks of his life.

"His decision was extremely selfless," Ruth Baran told WCBS 880's Peter Haskell. "He didn't want to give up the fight, he really didn't, but he saw that if he got it, or if I got COVID and brought it home to my mother he would never forgive himself for that."

"He really didn't want to bring COVID home into the house," she said. "He didn't wanna die, as we had been hearing how people are dying in the hospital, without their loved ones."

Michael Baran
Michael Baran Photo credit Ruth Baran

Just two weeks before his death, Baran paid tribute to Holocaust victims by reciting Kaddish, the Jewish prayer for the dead, for the museum's annual remembrance ceremony last year.

Now, the museum honoring Baran and two dozen other Holocaust survivors, whose deaths were related to the virus, with a new tribute page on its website, featuring the victims' photos as well as testimonials from their relatives.

"Over this past year, as we've endured a devastating pandemic, we have heard from relatives who have sought ways to share the stories of perseverance and resilience in times of pain and in times of hope," said Jack Kliger, museum president & CEO. "Since our founding days nearly 25 years ago, the Museum has dedicated our work to both those who lost their lives during the Holocaust, and those who survived, and their children and grandchildren. Through this new tribute page, we will ensure their lives will not be forgotten."

Those who would like to share their memories of their loved ones can submit their stories here.

On Sunday, the museum will hold its Annual Gathering of Remembrance, featuring music, remarks from Holocaust survivors, and a candle-lighting ceremony.

"Each year, at the Annual Gathering of Remembrance, we bring thousands of New Yorkers together to say with one collective voice: we will never forget," said Kliger. "Delivered by a city with one of the world's largest communities of Holocaust survivors, this tribute has power that echoes across generations. Sadly, during this past year, many of those survivors lost their lives amid the pandemic, and so we will honor them during this program."

The commemoration is being held virtually and the livestream will begin at 2 p.m.

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