Monday, February 16, 2015

Holocaust Survivor Band

Florida retirees Reuben Sosnowicz and Saul Dreier each survived the Holocaust, and still love music, so last year they started the Holocaust Survivor Klezmer Band. With Dreier, 89, on drums and Sosnowicz, 85, on keyboard, they joyfully play the tunes they learned as youths. Other players are just "kids" but also have Holocaust connections. Vocalist Chanarose Sosnowicz, Reuben's daughter, is only 53. Jeff Black, 64, is a rhythm guitar player whose parents perished at Auschwitz.

The Holocaust Survivor Band

Dreier was inspired to start a band when Alice Herz-Sommer died last year at 110. She was the oldest Holocaust victim at the time, and survived Theresienstadt concentration camp by playing the piano on orders of the Gestapo to fool the Red Cross. When Dreier announced his plan to honor Herz-Sommer's love of music by starting a band, his wife and rabbi both felt it was a bad idea, so "I decided to go for it," he said.

The band plays a variety of tunes including klezmer, joyful Jewish folk music.  Dreier says performing has made him more energetic. Sosnowicz was depressed after his wife had a stroke, but his daughter believes the band restored his good humor. "I haven't seen him happy like this in years," she said.

During its first year,  the band became popular on the southern Florida synagogue/flea market/retirement home circuit. It's currently booked through April. For performance times and dates, call Dreier at 954-868-4742.

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