Holocaust Survivors, Families Keep Memories Alive
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By Alyssa Schmitt
Holocaust survivors and their families gathered Sept. 16 at Zion Memorial Park in Bedford Heights for the 57th year to remember the 6 million Jewish men, women and children who perished by the hands of the Nazis.
About 250 people attended the annual fall memorial for victims of the Holocaust, which was sponsored by the Kol Israel Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland. For the first time, the Shul Boys, a Cleveland Jewish motorcycle riding club that raises money for Holocaust education, participated.
Josh Kramer, a board member of Kol Israel and memorial co-chair, led a candle-lighting ceremony where survivors and children or grandchildren of survivors lit six candles in memory of the 6 million who died. A seventh candle in memory of the children who perished in the Holocaust was lit by third-generation descendants. They are the grandchildren of survivor Leo Silberman, chairperson of the Kol Israel Foundation’s board.
Rabbi Abraham Bensoussan gave the keynote address, where he said the hatred the Nazis had is still alive today and anti-Semitism is strong throughout Europe. He encouraged those in the crowd to not only stand up to it, but to tell friends that “we cannot tolerate anti-Semitism in any form or shape.”
“It is again, at a pre-Holocaust level,” he said. “It is blatant, it is open and it is in the streets of the entire Europe, including England. Here it exists, but thank God, we don’t see it as much. It is our obligation, it is our duty, it is our responsibility to fight it in any way we can. And yes, never again.”
Leatrice B. Rabinsky, noted Holocaust scholar who started Holocaust education in schools and died in June at age 91, was honored during the event. Her name was unveiled on a pillar dedicated for Holocaust educators and her daughter, Linda Bensoussan, shared a 2006 Yom Hashoah speech her mother gave inspired by the stories of Kol Israel members.
“Forgetfulness leads to exile while remembrance is the secret of redemption,” said Bensoussan, quoting her mother. “Our peoplehood is built on memory. Memories which have created a bond with survivors, which have given meanings to the lives of this teacher and students for more than four decades.”
Bensoussan, still quoting her mother, gave five examples of survivors showing resistance, saving lives, keeping the memory of family alive, vibrant and religious spirit and the belief in the impossible.
Last year, the monument received an Ohio Historical Marker. About 50 new markers are completed each year.