By Wendy Holdren
Community members gathered in honor of Yom HaShoah, the Holocaust Day of Remembrance, Sunday at Carter Hall at Mountain State University.
Every year since 1995, the ringing of the Lewin Bell Tower has marked the beginning of this special day of remembrance.
Tom Sopher, president of Temple Beth El, welcomed everyone as the event began around 1 p.m.
The host of this year’s event, Brian Nelson, took the stage to tell everyone about the true meaning of Yom HaShoah. Nelson, a second-year rabbinical student at Hebrew Union College, geared the program toward Yom HaZikaron L’Shoah UlGvurah, which means The Day of Remembrance of the Holocaust and Its Heroes.
Nelson said this day of remembrance is the “single greatest honor” one can bestow, “to take care of and honor someone who has passed” because it is something they cannot do for themselves.
He shared stories of how Jews from around the world fought against the tyranny. He spoke of the uprisings within concentration camps.
He proudly shared how the Jews did not go quietly.
“They defended their honor.”
Many people were saved during the resistance of the Holocaust, Nelson said, because of people who stood up and did the right thing, people who could not be silenced.
A clip from “Resistance,” the 2008 movie about Jewish brothers joining Russian resistance fighters in the Belarussian forests to build a village for protection, was shown to the nearly full auditorium in Carter Hall.
The scene showed a traditional Jewish wedding, but near the end of the clip, the enemies opened fire.
“They continued to live and love and do the best they could,” Nelson said. “When you push people into a corner, they will stand up and they will fight. People will fight back when they’re faced with hatred.”
More than 6 million Jews were killed during this tragic time, Nelson said, and “today we remember what hate can do.”
A moment of silence was held and then several poems were read as the candle-lighting ceremony began.
Dr. Joseph Golden told the meaning of the seventh candle on the Menorah and Dr. Norman Seigel told Max Lewin’s story.
Lewin was a Holocaust survivor who donated money to build the Bell Tower at MSU in remembrance of family members who were killed. Although Lewin passed away in 2002, his memory lives on, as he played a great role inspiring the Temple Beth El congregation.
Another Holocaust survivor, Daniel Kereth, of Bluefield, joined the remembrance event to share his story.
Nelson gave the closing remarks. The program was concluded with a memorial service to honor those who lost their lives, so that an atrocity of this nature can never be allowed to happen again.
To learn more about the Holocaust resistance, visit the Raleigh County Public Library to view the display “Fighting the Fires of Hate.”
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