Friday, April 24, 2015

2015 Yom HaShoah Commemoration Ceremony

On Sunday, April 19, hundreds of San Diegans filled the auditorium of the Lawrence Family JCC for the Jewish Federation of San Diego County’s annual Yom HaShoah commemoration ceremony, which was a collaborative effort on behalf of several local Jewish community partners.

The 2015 Yom HaShoah Commemoration Ceremony was a combined effort on behalf of the Anti-Defamation League, San Diego Center for Jewish Culture, Jewish Community Foundation, Jewish Family Service, New Life Club, Lawrence Family Jewish Community Center, JACOBS FAMILY CAMPUS, San Diego Rabbinical Association, and the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Jewish Federation of San Diego County.

The theme of this year’s ceremony was From Auschwitz to Activism – 70 Years on From the Holocaust. The ceremony honored two local survivors, Lou Dunst – and his liberator, Bob Persinger – and Rose Schindler, who recently attended the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz in Poland.

The touching ceremony commenced with a moving introductory speech from Yom HaShoah committee Chair, Barbara Ostroff. The program included captivating video footage and images, a color guard performance reminiscent of the concentration camps liberation, a musical presentation, and a candle lighting ceremony, where candles were lit by survivors and their families in memory of the 6 million Jews who were killed.

Several local Rabbis, including Rabbi Rosenthal, Lawson, Greenstein, and Kopikas conducted a meaningful prayer service, where eight candles were lit to embrace survivors through the fourth generation. The ceremony concluded with Lou Dunst leading a community-wide recitation of the Kaddish – the mourner’s prayer and local Jewish youth groups singing the Hatikvah – Israel’s national anthem, with heart warmth radiating throughout the entire auditorium.

Each year, a local ‘righteous gentile’ is selected by the committee to honor the many gentiles who helped to save countless Jewish lives during the Holocaust. This year, Bishop Sarhad Jammo, of the Iraqi Christian community lit the eighth candle.

The keynote speaker, Dr. Steven Windmueller, discussed what it means when we say ‘never again’ and spoke about global anti-Semitism. He encouraged world leaders not to stand by during times when evil-doers are promoting present day genocide or planning future holocaust scenarios.

In the words of the Chairman of the American Gathering of Jewish Holocaust Survivors and Their Descendants, “it is not enough to remember, we must take action; we are obligated to teach our children tolerance and to understand others,” said Chairman, Roman Kent at the 70th anniversary of the Liberation of Auschwitz in Poland. “Hate is never right and love is never a mistake. We don’t want our past to be our children’s future.

Click here, to view more photos from the 2015 Yom HaShoah photo album.

Toda Raba to all who attended and helped to make this year’s Yom HaShoah Commemoration such a remarkable and memorable ceremony.


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