Event will ‘remember the children’

BY MIKE SHERWIN, STAFF WRITER

Holocaust survivors and area musicians and cantors will come together for the annual Yom HaShoah Community Commemoration, which will be held at Congregation Shaare Emeth at 4 p.m. on Sunday, April 15.

This year, the event’s organizers have named the commemoration, “Remember the Children,” in order to bring attention to the 1.5 million children who died during the Holocaust.

“We’re focusing on individual stories to understand and try to comprehend the incomprehensible loss of that many people,” said Dan Reich, curator and director of education at the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center.”

Two local women, Lisa Hellman and Rachel Goldman Miller, survived the Holocaust and will relate their stories and the stories of their siblings who did not survive.

Miller, a regular docent and speaker at the St. Louis Holocaust Museum and Learning Center, was born in France and lost her mother, two brothers and sister, who were all sent to the Auschwitz concentration camp. Miller was sent to the country with a friend, where she managed to evade capture by the Nazis.

Hellman was sent to Auschwitz along with her four sisters. She was the only one to survive.

“During the Holocaust, children were certainly the most vulnerable, because some of the adults may have been kept to be sent to labor camps, or put to work, but children were generally seen as useless, and were often the first to be sent to the gas chambers, or to die from ill treatment or starvation,” Reich said.

“And it’s important to remember that for every child or every individual that’s lost, that’s a child who did not have the opportunity to grow up and have his or her own children. So exponentially that’s millions more that have been lost,” he said.

Kent Hirschfelder, chairman of the HMLC committee that organized the event, said that committee wanted to make sure that the commemoration focused on personal stories from Holocaust survivors.

“The first person voices, the most powerful voices, are disappearing,” Hirschfelder said. “We’re working very hard to let them tell their stories.”

Reich said that musicians from the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra will perform at the event, along with four female cantors from the St. Louis area: Hazzan Joanna Dulkin from Shaare Zedek, Cantor Linda Blumenthal from Temple Israel, Guest Cantor Adina Frydman and Cantorial Intern Sharon Nathanson from B’nai Amoona.

The commemoration will include the annual lighting of six candles, Reich said, to represent the six million Jews who died in the Holocaust. And, a seventh candle will be lit by Imam Muhammed Hasic, a local leader in the Muslim and Bosnian communities, in order to remember the genocides that have occurred since the Holocaust.

“It is a memorial service, so it does commemorate that loss,” Reich said. “But there is an undertone that genocide does continue to go on to this day, and if people perhaps better understood the history, they might learn these lessons.”

Hirschfelder said there would be information tables set up about the genocide in Darfur.

“Our focus is on remembering the European Holocaust and honoring those who perished, but we also are trying to educate people that we have to do a better job and continue to pound into the minds and the psyche of people, particularly for future generations, the importance of that phrase, ‘Never Again,'” Hirschfelder said.

“Remember the Children” is free and open to the community, and takes place at Shaare Emeth on Sunday, April 15 at 4 p.m. Members of the community unable to attend may phone in to hear the service through the Michael Matlof Memorial Homebound Service. Call the Holocaust Museum at 314-442-3714 for more information.

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