As in the past 35 years, the Teaneck Holocaust Committee has been busy for many months preparing for its annual Holocaust commemoration to coincide with the international marking of Yom Hashoah. Working diligently, original members who themselves are children of Holocaust survivors collaborated with several new, young members who came aboard this year to add their support to the committee. Their skills and enthusiasm have added greatly to this year’s program.
Holocaust Commemoration Committee Co-Chair Felicia Grossman shared, “As the second generation of parents who survived the Holocaust, my co-chair Chani Jaskoll and I are keenly aware of how important the memory of the Holocaust is until today. Our parents are unfortunately passing on and if we do not carry their stories forward, their suffering and sagas of courageous survival will be forgotten. It is particularly crucial that second and third generations of survivors become involved in our community’s commemoration.”
The committee is proud to be featuring the world-renowned Abraham Foxman as its keynote speaker. Foxman, a Bergenfield resident, will present “The Holocaust: A Personal History.” The commemoration will take place on Tuesday, April 18 at 7:30 p.m. at Bergenfield High School.
Foxman first addressed the commemoration in 1995 when he was serving as national director of the Anti-Defamation League, a position he held from 1987 to 2015. Upon retirement from ADL, Foxman served as vice chairman of the Museum of Jewish Heritage-A Living Memorial to the Holocaust in Battery Park, New York; visiting lecturer at Georgetown University’s School of Foreign Affairs; and non-resident research fellow at the Institute for National Security Studies in Tel Aviv. During his illustrious career, Foxman has engaged in direct consultations with over a dozen world leaders, three Popes, and numerous U.S. Presidents and members of Congress. Foxman served on the national President’s United States Holocaust Memorial Council and as a member of official Presidential delegations to special events throughout Europe and Israel.
The Yavneh Academy Concert Choir, under the direction of Marsha Motzen, will present several musical tributes in memory of the Shoah. Talented musical artist Jonathan Rimberg, accompanied by skilled violinist Stephanie Kurtzman, will perform moving renditions of traditional Holocaust-related songs. New this year is a video presentation of sand art animation by noted Israel artist Ilana Yahav.
Each year a Legacy Family conducts the candle lighting ceremony. This year, the legacy family will include sisters Sarah Small and Julie Atlas, new members of the Teaneck Holocaust Committee, and their younger sister, Emily Hoffman. They will be joined by their grandmother Miriam Bronkesh, a child survivor of the Holocaust; Uncle Noah Bronkesh; and Zachary Small, the 7-year-old son of Small.
Small shared, “It is deeply meaningful to my family to have our grandmother recognized as the matriarch of the Legacy Family at this year’s commemoration, especially as Julie and I have recently joined the Teaneck Holocaust Committee. With each passing year, fewer survivors can take part in such a memorial program. My family and I are compelled to share the disturbing story of my Grandmother who spent the Holocaust years as a child in hiding. After escaping the Chmielnik Ghetto, my grandmother and her mother paid non-Jews to hide them in their attics and barns, having to move from one place to another more than 20 times. They lived in constant fear of being discovered by the Nazis or betrayed by their hosts. Their inhumane conditions included living with lice, exposure to frigid Polish winters, and baking in attics during sweltering summers. As the third generation, it is incumbent upon us to continue carrying the torch by educating our generation and the next to NEVER FORGET!”
This year’s student artwork will be created by the Naale High School for Girls in Fair Lawn under the supervision of art instructor Renee Schneier. The exhibit,
titled “Sole Witness,” will feature shoes like those appropriated from prisoners in the ghettos and concentration camps and the stories behind them. The exhibit will be displayed at the Bergenfield Public Library in April and at the Teaneck Public Library in May.
The list of donors and sponsors will be scrolled during the program as well as “Those We Have Lost,” the names of family members who perished during the Holocaust. Rabbi Chaim Strauchler, rabbi of Congregation Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck, will read portions of Tehillim. Rabbi Joseph Adler, rabbi emeritus, will lead the Kaddish and memorial prayer.
Bergenfield High School is located at 80 South Prospect Ave. There is ample parking as well as handicapped accessible parking. The entrance to the auditorium is on the main level.
For tax-deductible donations, visit teaneckyomhashoa.org or send checks payable to Jewish Community Council of Greater Teaneck to 1168 East Laurelton Parkway, Teaneck.
By Pearl Markovitz