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A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

A nonprofit, independent news source to inform, inspire, educate and connect the St. Louis Jewish community.

St. Louis Jewish Light

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Missouri Governor honors Holocaust survivors, educators

Bill Motchan
Dee Dee Simon and Governor Mike Parson

Dear Mrs. Feldman, You recommended that everyone always stand up against prejudice, discrimination and stereotypes. What you said connects to everything that I learned at the Holocaust museum. You defined something I can do in today’s time to help people and stop terrible things like the Holocaust from happening.

– Letter from a 7th grade student to Holocaust survivor Gloria Feldman.

JEFFERSON CITY, MO. — Missouri Governor Mike Parson hosted a special Yom HaShoah event Monday at the governor’s mansion to pay tribute to individuals who work to keep the memory of the Holocaust alive through education and awareness efforts.

Dee Dee Simon, chair of the Missouri Holocaust Education and Awareness Commission, explained the purpose of Yom HaShoah.

“We remember the beautiful lives lost, and the potential that never will be fulfilled,” Simon said. “And we celebrate the unimaginable strength, courage, and fortitude of survivors and rescuers. It is common practice to light six candles, representing 6 million murdered Jews. These are the candles you see on the table to my side. May their souls rest in peace.”

Parson addressed the attendees and discussed the legislation he signed into law in July 2022 (the Holocaust Education and Awareness Commission Act) with the goal of educating students about the Holocaust and inspiring a sense of responsibility to recognize and uphold human value and to prevent future atrocities.

“I’ll tell you, we shouldn’t have to pass a bill to educate people about the Holocaust,” Parson said. “People should be aware of what happened in our history, in our country, in other countries, and how important Israel is.

“I hope that when I finish out my term as governor, I hope the one thing you realize is that you had an ally here when I was governor and did what I can to make sure I do present a good partnership for Israel and for the state of Missouri and for the Jewish people of this state and how important you are to me.”

Parson then presented a proclamation to Simon, which pledged continuing support to the Missouri Holocaust Education Awareness Commission and its mission and proclaims May 6, 2024 as Holocaust Remembrance Day in Missouri.

Survivor Gloria Feldman then spoke in a moving account of her vivid memories of growing up during the Holocaust and the horrors of losing loved ones, living in fear, hiding and finally, safe passage after liberation.

“I am speaking today because I must,” Feldman said. “The world needs to hear the truth. I am speaking to you on behalf of the millions who were murdered and will never be able to speak for themselves, for my siblings, grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins who were all murdered.

“My family would not have survived without the help of farmers who hid us and who risked their lives,” she said. “If caught, they would have been killed, tortured, and the worst. I was fortunate to survive, but so many did not.”

Following Feldman’s remarks, Simon presented special recognition to Holocaust educators Lolle Boettcher and Dana Humphrey for their ongoing support and work.

All photos by Bill Motchan.

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About the Contributor
Bill Motchan, writer/photographer
Bill worked in corporate communications for AT&T for 28 years. He is a former columnist for St. Louis Magazine. Bill has been a contributing writer for the Jewish Light since 2015 and is a three-time winner of the Rockower Award for excellence in Jewish Journalism. He also is a staff writer for the travel magazine Show-Me Missouri. Bill grew up in University City. He now lives in Olivette with his wife and cat, Hobbes. He is an avid golfer and a fan of live music. He has attended the New Orleans Jazzfest 10 times and he has seen Jimmy Buffett in concert more t han 30 times between 1985 and 2023.