The recent deaths of two prominent Holocaust survivors in the New York area, Benjamin Meed and Sigmund Strochlitz, remind us of their contributions to keeping the memory of the Shoah alive, and of the poignant fact that the generation of those who endured the tragedies of World War II will soon be gone.

Ben Meed, 88, survived the Warsaw Ghetto uprising and helped found the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors 25 years ago. He devoted great energy and devotion to reunions of survivors, and to keeping their story in the forefront of Jewish and American life. Through his efforts in establishing a registry of Jewish Holocaust survivors, hundreds of family members were reunited. The registry, named after Meed and his wife, Vladka, has a database with more than 185,000 records. In addition, Meed helped found the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington and the Museum of Jewish Heritage in New York.

Sigmund Strochlitz, 89, also helped found the national Holocaust museum in Washington. A close friend of Nobel Peace Prize laureate Elie Wiesel, who called him his “right-hand man,â€? Strochlitz worked tirelessly on behalf of Holocaust remembrance and in promoting annual Holocaust memorial ceremonies throughout the U.S.

Ben Meed and Sigmund Strochlitz stood out as activists who made major contributions toward assuring that the Holocaust would not be forgotten after the survivors were no longer alive. Like so many fellow survivors, after losing family members, they came to this country virtually penniless and not speaking the language, but managed to create new lives for themselves, leaving children and grandchildren to carry on the legacy of remembrance.

We owe an enormous debt to leaders like Meed and Strochlitz, but also to all of those survivors whose greatest testament of faith was to go on living, starting over, establishing families of their own to carry on the values, history and memories of those who were silenced.