Alan and Stephanie Bonder spoke on behalf of the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous to an audience of 230 people at the JCC of Middlesex County’s Yom HaShoah program.
The Bonders’ presentation focused on Alan’s family’s wartime story. When Alan Bonder’s father, Joseph, was 13 years old, he and his sister, Joan, escaped from the Skalat ghetto to the village of Ostra Mogila, Poland, where Joan had worked as a teacher. There, they connected with Joan’s former student Bronislaw Firuta, 14, whose family hid the siblings from 1942 to 1944. When it was too dangerous for the Bonders to continue hiding, they fled to the nearby woods, where they joined a group of partisans. The young Firuta once again distinguished himself, providing support to the partisan group in general and the Bonders in specific. In 1948, the Bonders, orphans who had lost their entire family, emigrated to the United States, building their lives and families. Joan died in 1991, and Joseph in 2020.
In 2009, the Jewish Foundation for the Righteous provided Mr. Bonder, his family, and his sister’s descendants with the opportunity to finally express their gratitude in person. Ending their more-than-60-year separation, the group coordinated a reunion between the Bonders and Bronislaw Firuta at JFK Airport. The JFR captured key moments for its award-winning documentary, “Village on the Rock,” which was screened at the JCC.
For more information, go to jfr.org.