Kol Israel Foundation Holds 62nd Memorial Commemoration

Tags: Federation, Advocacy

  • Share This Story

Holocaust survivors gather for a photo after the annual Kol Israel Foundation Fall Memorial on Sept. 24 at Zion Memorial Park in Bedford Heights. CJN Photo / Abigail Preiszig


Article reprinted with permission from Cleveland Jewish News

The Cleveland Jewish community remembered Holocaust victims and honored survivors and liberators at the annual Kol Israel Foundation Fall Memorial on Sept. 24 at Zion Memorial Park in Bedford Heights.

The memorial, hosted by Kol Israel Foundation and the Jewish Federation of Cleveland, was the 62nd anniversary of the memorial’s dedication in 1961 by the foundation’s founders, a group of local survivors, and it was the first year the memorial was honored as a National Memorial.

“What began as the nation’s first Holocaust monument is now the country’s first Holocaust memorial to obtain national recognition,” said Mark Frank, past president of Kol Israel Foundation and memorial co-chair. “We so wish we could share this accomplishment with now departed ancestors who had the foresight and fortitude to build it.”

Frank guided the candlelighting ceremony.

Candles, in the form of six electric lamps, were lit by survivors and their families to commemorate the 6 million Jews who died during the Holocaust. Frank read short biographies of each featured survivor, Khariton Stanovskiy; husband and wife, Peter and Aliki Rzepka; husband and wife, Albert and Madelyn Pollack; Erika Gold; and husband and wife, Irving Auerbach, and Jeanette Auerbach Buchwald.

A seventh candle was scheduled to be lit by Seth Gelwasser, who could not attend. Rachelle Korland, his grandmother, lit it in his place in memory of children who died during the Holocaust.

An eighth candle was lit by Irving Berger in honor of liberators of the Holocaust.

Robert Zelwin, president of Kol Israel Foundation, spoke about the experience of losing his grandson, 11-year-old Cole Zelwin, to acute myeloid leukemia in May and the importance of keeping his memory alive. He related his personal experience to the importance of keeping alive the memory of the Holocaust.

“We experienced a little bit of what the Holocaust survivors experienced,” Zelwin said. “It’s been our family’s mission since he passed away to remember him since he passed away. I am imploring everybody here to keep the memory of your family’s alive through the next generations.”

Dan Zelman, Jewish Federation of Cleveland Board Chair, discussed the importance of countering antisemitism through education and remembering the Holocaust. He discussed the presence of antisemitism in the community following an antisemitic incident by Brooklyn High School’s football team on Sept. 22.

“It isn’t just the Jewish people we have to educate,” Zelman said. “… the fact that this can happen right here in our community is proof, not that we needed proof, but it’s just proof that these events are still going on and we’ve got to continue to educate and do what we can to prevent this.”

Rabbi Yossi Marozov, executive director of Friendship Circle of Cleveland in Pepper Pike, spoke about further emphasizing the importance of remembering the Holocaust.

“In order for something to really hit home and stay with you, we need to repeat it again and again, it’s never enough,” Marozov said. “If we stop remembering something we will forget.”

Andrew Mizsak, a member of the Kol Israel board of directors, presented Mayor Fletcher Berger of Bedford Heights with an honorary plaque for his efforts since 2015 to recognize the Kol Israel Foundation Holocaust Memorial as a National Memorial.

“Mayor Berger along with former state Sen. Kenny Yuko, who joins us today, have been two of our strongest voices in advocacy with this – America’s first National Memorial dedicated to the victims, the liberators and the survivors of the Holocaust,” Mizsak said.

Following the memorial, Berger told the Cleveland Jewish News he was flattered by the honor, but he didn’t feel he did anything out of the ordinary.

“It’s an honor,” Berger told the CJN. “But it feels like an over exaggeration for doing something that should be done.”

The ceremony closed with Tehillim and El Malei Rachamim led by Charles Gruenspan.

Marozov also led the recitation of the Kaddish, or Mourner’s Prayer.

Learn More: Federation, Advocacy