By Wendy Holdren
“Never Forget” — That was the theme of the 19th annual Beckley ceremony for Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Day of Remembrance.
Tom Sopher, president of Temple Beth El, welcomed everyone to the remembrance ceremony and extended a special thank you to the University of Charleston for continuing the event which was initiated at Mountain State University by Max Lewin.
Lewin was a Holocaust survivor who donated the money to build the Bell Tower located on the campus, in remembrance of family members killed in the Holocaust.
He passed away in 2002, but every year since 1995, the bells have been rung to mark the beginning of Yom HaShoah.
“Today, we’re here to revisit the hope and the determination of the survivors,” student rabbi Jessica Wainer said.
She and another student rabbi, Marina Tecktiel, were the guest speakers for the event.
They discussed the Kindertransport, which was a rescue operation headed by the British Jewish Refugee Committee that sought to rescue children from the Holocaust and eventually reunite them with their families.
Although many children who were a part of the Kindertransport never saw their families again, many gathered years later to share their stories in hopes that a tragedy like this will never happen again.
Daniel Kereth, of Bluefield, spoke to the crowd gathered inside Carter Hall about his Holocaust experience.
He said his mind was not as quick as it used to be, but he recalled much of his experience with great detail.
He spoke of the inhumane conditions, the difficulties he and his family faced, and also the occasional rays of hope that led him through.
In the closing ceremony, several poems were recited and candles were lit in memory of the 6 million Jews murdered by the Nazis and their collaborators.
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