Event will ‘Remember the Children’


Recently Hana’s Suitcase, a play about the tragic story of a little girl who died at Auschwitz during the Holocaust, captured the hearts and imagination of many St. Louis children and adults. Multiply that by a million and a half, if you can imagine, which equals the numbers of children who perished at the hands of the Nazi killers. As I write this I find it unimaginable. How could such a hideous thing happen that the children, the most vulnerable and tragic, should be victims of the Holocaust? However that is not the issue for today. What is the issue is that never again should the world witness such horror.

Lest we forget, every year the world observes Yom HaShoah in remembrance of those who died simply because they were Jews living in the wrong place at the wrong time. The 2007 Yom HaShoah St. Louis Community Commemoration, Remember the Children, will be held on Sunday, April 15 at 4 p.m. at Congregation Shaare Emeth, 11645 Ladue Road. This year the community will memorialize the lives of the million and a half children who perished in the Shoah, mourn their deaths and acknowledge the countless potential promises left unfulfilled. Two St. Louis survivors will share memories of their own childhoods and remember their siblings who were murdered. Musicians from the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and cantors from area synagogues and temples will participate. Before and after the service, B’nai Brith St. Louis will coordinate “Unto Every Person There is a Name”, an international program in which names of a million and a half child-victims will be read aloud continuously. Dan Reich who is coordinating the program for the event’s sponsor, the Gloria M. Goldstein Holocaust Museum and Learning Center, told me that individuals interested in the reading of names either arrive early or stay after the service. Chair of the commemoration is Kent Hirschfelder.

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Two St. Louis women who as children survived the Holocaust will share memories of their experiences and their siblings. Lisa Hellman was born in Poland, the youngest of five daughters. Her father had a printing business and her mother traveled all over Europe outfitting brides with dowries. Lisa, pampered, petted and spoiled, lived a near idyllic life in her affluent home where there was much love and laughter. In 1938, the family was moved to the ghetto where they stayed until December of 1941 when they were shipped to Auschwitz. Lisa is the sole survivor and her story about her life and her sisters will be part of the Yom HaShoah commemoration. Rachel Goldman Miller, the youngest of four children, was born in France in 1933 where her father was a barber and her mother a housewife. The family had moved from Warsaw, apparently to escape the persecution there, going from the comfort of their home in Poland to a very impoverished life in Paris. The police took Rachel’s father and uncle away in 1941 while the following year her mother, two brothers and sister were deported to Auschwitz. Rachel was saved because her mother sent her away to the country with her best friend. Her story will be a part of the Yom HaShoah Commemoration.

The service’s music will be provided by Sylvian Itovici, violinist and Second Associate Concertmaster of the Saint Louis Symphony Orchestra and retired SLSO pianist Barbara Liberman who will be joined by Cantor Linda Blumenthal of Congregation Temple Israel, Hazzan Joanna Dulkin of Shaare Zedek Synagogue, guest cantor Adina Frydman and Cantorial Intern Sharon Nathanson of Congregation B’nai Amoona.

In 1942, when the Nazis occupied Czechoslovakia, they seized over 1,500 Torah scrolls and threw them in a basement to be the nucleus of a proposed museum showing the “relics of a destroyed race”. In 1964 a London art dealer discovered them and purchased these parchments from the Czech government on behalf of the Jewish community of London. The rescued scrolls filled five freight cars on a trip across Europe.

Bloodied, torn, desecrated, the scrolls werelovingly stored on shelves in special areas of the Westminster Synagogue in London. The rabbis in London convened a special court of law and decreed that these sacred scrolls were not to be buried, but where, if possible, to be repaired and sent to needy synagogues and temples anywhere in the world. As part of the St. Louis Yom HaShoa Commemoration there will be a Holocaust Torah Procession with Holocaust Torahs from congregations in our community.

This year every congregational rabbi carrying a Torah will be accompanied by a young person who was selected for this honor by reason of merit and, in some cases, a family relationship with Holocaust survivors.

Mark your calendar now for a not-to-be-missed experience on Sunday, April 15.