April 18, 2024
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Community Event to Commemorate 70th Anniversary of Liberation

Seventy years after the beginning of the end of the Holocaust, Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ, the Holocaust Council of Greater MetroWest, and the Holocaust Resource Center at Kean University will cosponsor “An End and a Beginning…70th Anniversary of Liberation.”

The annual community Yom HaShoah Holocaust commemoration will take place on Thursday, April 16, at 6:45 p.m. at Kean’s Wilkins Theatre for the Performing Arts, Union.

Throughout the spring of 1945, American and Allied forces liberated numerous concentration camps as they closed in on the Nazis. The commemoration will feature Holocaust survivors, liberators of the camps, educators, and second- and third-generation descendants of survivors.

The community collaboration originated years ago as a memorial for those lost in the Holocaust who have no recognized personal yahrtzeits (anniversaries of the dates of death). It provided survivors and families of the victims with an opportunity to come together as a community to say Kaddish, the Jewish mourner’s prayer. While the event is still a memorial, it’s also an opportunity to educate younger generations, Jews and non-Jews alike, about the Holocaust.

Three eyewitnesses to the horrors of the Holocaust will speak at the event, including Gerda Bikales, a Kristallnacht survivor; Dr. Norbert Bikales, who lived through the Kindertransport; and Cantor Judith Steele, a survivor of the SS St. Louis. Testimonies will also be offered by Dr. Alvin Weinstein, US Army Liberator of the Dachau Concentration Camp, and Rabbi Hershel Schacter, an Army chaplain who helped liberate the Buchenwald camp. Also speaking will be Harry Ettlinger, a member of the “Monuments Men” of WWII, and Michelle Dahl, an educator from Oak Knoll High School. Two second- and third-generation descendants of survivors will also speak. The event will also include choir performances by students at the Jewish Educational Center and Elmora PS #12, both in Elizabeth.

“I did not directly lose anyone in the Shoah,” said Marcy Lazar, chair of the Yom Hashoah Commemoration Committee. “But my people, the Jewish people, lost many. These losses need to remain present in our memories so that we can fight to combat any repetition of this kind of atrocity. Holocaust education helps create ‘upstanders,’ individuals who will support freedom for all, regardless of race or religion.”

The event is free and open to the entire community. Sign language interpretation by nationally certified ASL-English interpreters will be available.

For more information, call 973-929-3194.

By Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ

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