Kol Israel Fall Memorial Returns to Remember Victims, Survivors

Tags: Federation, CRC

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Holocaust survivors gather for a photo during the 60th anniversary of the Kol Israel Holocaust Memorial dedication Sept. 12, 2021, at Zion Memorial Park in Bedford Heights.


Article reprinted with permission from Cleveland Jewish News

Kol Israel Foundation will hold its Fall Memorial commemoration from 2 to 3 p.m. Oct. 2 at Zion Memorial Park in Bedford Heights.

Now in its 61st year, the memorial was dedicated on May 28, 1961. The foundation was created in 1959 by Holocaust survivors who settled in Cleveland.

Robert Zelwin, who was elected president of Kol Israel Foundation last year, is the son of Holocaust survivors Ida and Sam Zelwin. Of the event, he told the Cleveland Jewish News that this year’s commemoration will focus more on survivors that are still here to tell their stories.

Rabbi Matt Eisenberg of Temple Israel Ner Tamid in Mayfield Heights will speak at the commemoration and the Shul Boys motorcycle club will also be honored. There will be a candle lighting ceremony honoring victims, liberators and those righteous among the nations, remarks from community leaders, psalms, songs and prayers, including the mourner’s kaddish.

“We’re trying to get more people to come out to the event,” said Zelwin, who lives in Solon and attends B’nai Jeshurun Congregation in Pepper Pike. “We’re trying to build on this every year because it’s so important, especially since most survivors are gone. The second generation, whose parents were in the war, are also starting to get older and diminish.”

Kol Israel Foundation has also been pursuing National Memorial status by an act of U.S. Congress for the Holocaust memorial, which also received a state historic marker in 2017. The Ohio History Connection also designated the monument as the first of its kind in the country. Zelwin said there is a bill in front of Congress now, with about 28 sponsors from both political parties. It passed the House Sept. 19.

Of the commemoration and the effort to get the memorial recognized by Congress, Zelwin said remembrances like this are important – now more than ever.

“It’s so important to remember, especially with what is happening in the world,” he said. “This happened. It’s not going away. People have to remember it, especially with Holocaust deniers out there running rampant.”

The Kol Israel Fall Memorial event is held in partnership with the Jewish Federation of Cleveland.

“The community relations committee of the Jewish Federation of Cleveland is honored to join with Kol Israel to bring the annual Fall Memorial,” Susan Borison, vice chair of the community relations committee, told the CJN. “Each year between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Cleveland Jewish community gathers around the Holocaust Memorial Monument, a designated Ohio Historical Marker.”

Borison said Kol Israel, and the annual fall commemoration, leads “the collective mission” to remember the 6 million Jews that died in the Holocaust.

“We must preserve these stories and pass them to our children and our children’s children to fulfill our Jewish commitment to never forget,” she said. “... We encourage you to join the community memorial as we honor our families who had no one to light a candle or say the prayer when their lives were cut short.”

If You Go

WHAT: Kol Israel Fall Memorial

WHEN: 2 p.m. Oct. 2

WHERE: Zion Memorial Park, 5461 Northfield Road, Bedford Heights

INFO: Free to attend, donations to Kol Israel Foundation accepted. For more information, visit kifcle.org.

Learn More: Federation, CRC