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Holocaust survivor says front line workers during pandemic remind her of self-sacrifice of others who saved her from death camps

Claire Soria says those working the front lines “are risking their lives, and we owe them a debt of gratitude.”

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Claire Soria was five years old when she went into hiding during the Holocaust in Brussels. Now, the pandemic has brought back memories of isolation and stress.

“When this first started, I did have flashbacks," Soria said. "I did remember what it was like for me.”

Soria's family decided the best chance for survival was for them to split up. Her parents found a Christian family to take her in, risking their lives to hide Soria in their home. 

If the Gestapo found out the family was hiding a Jew, they would have all been taken to concentration camps. 

Tuesday, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, Soria sees that spirit of sacrifice in people working the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic.

“They too are risking their lives, and we owe them a debt of gratitude,” she said.

The closeness and kindness of the family that took Soria in gave her the strength to overcome the loneliness of being in hiding for five years, and separated from her family. 

For anyone feeling hopeless and alone now, Soria has advice, “four words: pick up the phone. Call someone.”

Now, Soria passes the time at home doing just that. 

She also plays the piano, a skill the family that took her in nearly 80 years ago taught her. Learning to play gave her hope for her future and gives her hope now.

As the coronavirus continues to reshape our lives, Soria says now is the time to be there for one another, to practice compassion, and to be resilient in overcoming the challenges of our new normal.

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