Holocaust survivor recounts horrors of his childhood as Senate committee approves security grants
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Sen Alexis Calatayud introduced the legislation that will bolster security by $45M for Jewish schools, preschools, museums and other places at high risk for violence.

A Senate committee unanimously approved $45 million to boost security for the Jewish community after hearing from a Holocaust survivor who recalled watching Nazis gun down his mother and two sisters.

Miami-area Republican Sen. Alexis Calatayud’s bill (SB 6-C) would dedicate the money to Jewish schools’ security, along with museums, community centers and any other instituions that face the threat of violent attack. It now heads to the full Senate floor. Brevard County Rep. Randy Fine has filed identical legislation (HB 7-C) that goes before the House Appropriations Committee later today.

Holocaust survivor David Schaecter of Miami, who was imprisoned at the concentration camps Auschwitz and Buchenwald, said he was there to make sure the phrase “Never Again” really does have meaning.

“Demonstrations and racial protests progress quickly to hate crimes and violent antisemitism,” he said. He then recounted a childhood scene that has haunted him every day since it happened.

Nazi guards used whips and barking dogs to prod a crowd that included his relatives down a hill toward men with guns who mowed them down so their bodies fell into the pre-dug pit, he said.

“I am honored to stand here today to make sure our voices are heard,” he said. “Eighty-five years ago, the world stood still, the world was silent or indifferent as 6 million of our people were killed. And a million of them are children.”

In introducing the bill, Calatayud referenced the escalation of antisemitic events since the surprise Hamas attack that left more than 1,400 civilians dead, most of them Jewish.

“Since the Oct. 7 massacre, antisemitic attacks of intimidation and violence in the United States have escalated over 400%,” she said.

Both Democratic and Republican Senators decried the violence and expressed support for the efforts.

“I am extremely sad about the conversations we have to have with our children,” said Democratic Sen. Rosalind Osgood of Broward County. “It’s not a place we should be at, but I also have hope because when we stand together consistently against hate, we send a resounding message as human beings. We have to continue to push to love and show love and respect and appreciation for each other.”

Republican Sen. Tom Wright said he was looking forward to voting for the bill.

“I wish we could all figure out a way to love and respect each other worldwide,” Wright said. “I just don’t know how we can get there but we need to get there.”


An earlier version of this story misstated the amount of the appropriation.

Anne Geggis

Anne Geggis is a South Florida journalist who began her career in Vermont and has worked at the Sun-Sentinel, the Daytona Beach News-Journal and the Gainesville Sun covering government issues, health and education. She was a member of the Sun-Sentinel team that won the 2019 Pulitzer Prize for coverage of the Parkland high school shooting. You can reach her on Twitter @AnneBoca or by emailing [email protected].


  • My Take

    November 6, 2023 at 2:35 pm

    We should remember and teach about the horrors of the rightwing in power, unrestrained by law, and “gone wild.” The uñimaginable suffereing of Jews in most of Europe.
    But we should be able to teach honestly about black suffering–including mass murder–in Florida as well.

  • Rick Whitaker

    November 6, 2023 at 2:43 pm

    desantis survivor. trump survivor. nixon survivor.. reagan survivor.

Comments are closed.


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