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APR 16, 2015

Yom HaShoah ceremony unites generations

By: Luis Rivas, Park La Brea News Beverly Press

Los Angeles will commemorate the Holocaust throughout the week and weekend as part of the 62nd annual Yom HaShoah, Holocaust Remembrance Day. 

On Sunday, thousands will gather at Pan Pacific Park at the Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust (LAMOTH) for the museum’s 23rd annual “Yom HaShoah Day of Holocaust Commemoration”.

Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti and Israeli Consul General David Siegal will be featured speakers, with a special performance by actor/musician Theodore Bikel. Rabbi Sharon Brous of IKAR will give the invocation.

Leora Raikin will speak and lead a tour of LAMOTH’s newest exhibit, “The Art of Life of David Labkovski”. Raikin is the great-niece of Lithuanian-Israeli artist Labkovski. Additionally, Dr. Steven Teitelbaum will speak on his Polish great-grandparents’ experience during the Holocaust and lead a tour of the exhibit “Return to Wielopole: The Teitelbaum Family Journey”.

Grandchildren of Holocaust survivors, known as the 3G at LAMOTH, will lead a discussion on the Holocaust in the reflective space of the Children’s Memorial.

Connecting stories and messages of the Holocaust to a younger generation is something that the museum does intentionally with its programming, according to LAMOTH executive director Samara Hutman.

“In this last decade we have seen young people connecting with Holocaust survivors, listening to their life stories and carrying forward these narratives,” Hutman said.

LAMOTH, the oldest Holocaust museum in the country, traces its origin to 1961 when Holocaust survivors discussed the need to preserve the memories and artifacts, such as photographs, concentration camp uniforms and other objects, in Los Angeles. The museum opened its doors in Pan Pacific Park in 2010.

“These intergenerational connections inspire us and are at the heart of our work at Los Angeles Museum of the Holocaust,” Hutman said.

The Yom HaShoah Day of Holocaust Commemoration begins at 2 p.m. on Sunday. The ninth annual Walk to End Genocide starts at 9 a.m. through 1 p.m. The Walk to End Genocide is a project of Jewish World Watch, a national Jewish organization founded in 2004 that works to aid communities affected by genocide, particularly in Sudan and Congo.

The common experience and condemnation of genocide brings people together, said Jewish World Watch president and co-founder Janice Kamenir-Reznik.

“Communities that have survived genocides have a great deal in common. We share an empathy about what it means to have been targeted for death and annihilation while the majority of the world stood idly by and did little or nothing to help.  By definition, for a genocide to happen it means that the world allowed it to happen,” she said.

The walk, which is just under three miles, supports the organization’s projects and campaigns. Registration for adults is $20, $15 for students ages 12 to 22, $10 for children ages 5 to 11, and toddlers participate for free.

This year, the organization is expecting approximately 4,000 people to attend the Yom HaShoah ceremony and participate in the walk.

In addition to Sunday’s Holocaust remembrance events, the city of Los Angeles hosted a commemoration of Yom HaShoah in the City Hall Rotunda and a city council presentation in council chambers, featuring Holocaust survivors Helen Freeman and Maurice Polar. Representatives of the Jewish community as well as council members Bob Blumenfield, 3rd District; Mitchell Englander, 12th District; and Paul Koretz, 5th District; were in attendance.

On Saturday at noon, Hollywood Temple Beth El and the Iranian American Jewish Federation are hosting a joint service at the temple titled, “From Darkness to a Great Light: Commemorating the 70th Year of the End of the Holocaust and the Shattering of the Nazi Death Camps”.

Allied forces liberated the concentration camps in the months leading up to the end of World War II in Europe on May 8, 1945. The soldiers were shocked to discover the camps. Jewish people, Gypsies, the disabled, gay and lesbian individuals and political dissidents were exterminated.

Rabbi Norbert Weinberg, author of “Courage of the Spirit”, will speak on “The Nazi War against Judaism and the Jews: What My Father Learned in a Prison in Nazi Berlin.” Rabbi Weinberg’s father was imprisoned twice by the Nazis and escaped to the Soviet Union; his mother survived under false identity in Warsaw.

“On Sunday, we loudly declare, as a growing movement, that we will not be silent as people are targeted for destruction due to their race, religion, ethnicity or other characteristic, as is happening in Darfur as the Black African Muslims have been targeted by the Sudanese regime,” Kamenir-Reznik said.

To read the full article in the Park La Brea News, click here.