Making History in Jewish Cleveland

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The Kol Israel Foundation was founded by a group of people in the 1950’s, who came to Cleveland after the Holocaust, to establish a memorial for their friends and family members who perished in the Holocaust. On May 28, 1961, they built a monument at the Zion Memorial Park in Bedford Heights to carry on its mission of honoring and preserving the memories of survivors.

“As the survivors settled in Cleveland, including my parents, they discovered that other survivors in the area also had similar experiences and goals,” said Mark Frank, a Second-generation Holocaust survivor and Kol Israel Foundation 1st Vice President. “They established friendships and shared their past and a special kinship grew, a new family formed for those whose real family had perished.”

Every year, on the Sunday between Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, the Jewish Federation of Cleveland and the Kol Israel Foundation co-host a Memorial program with survivors, 2nd generation survivors and 3rd generation survivors. This year’s 56th Annual Memorial Service recognized more than just the memory of the Holocaust; it included a special dedication of the Kol Israel Monument’s Historical Marker by the State of Ohio.

“I had seen these historical markers around, and thought it would be nice to have a marker here," Mark said. "The Monument is a historical place in the state of Ohio.”

In 2016, Mark began to research the process of establishing the Monument as a recognized historical location in Ohio. He contacted the Ohio History Connection, the body that awards the historic markers. After a short time, the marker was approved and acknowledges the Holocaust Memorial Monument as one of the first of its kind in the United States.

“Kol Israel wants to carry on the legacy of the Holocaust and make sure it doesn’t get forgotten," Mark said. "There are people who don’t believe the Holocaust happened; this monument recognizes it did happen by the state. It’s emotional. I’m very satisfied that the marker has been awarded to us. It will now be in the history of the state, it’ll be on websites. People will be talking about it, and this helps to ensure the Holocaust will not be forgotten.”

For more information, contact Debbie Klein at dklein@jcfcleve.org or 216-593-2834.

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