Gathering to Remember the Holocaust

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Candles were lit and children sang at the memorial event, which this  year marked the 70th anniversary of the end of World War II. 

"We must never again allow persecution and tyranny to reign free," said Lt. Gov. Mike Stack at the annual Holocaust memorial ceremony on April 19.

"Sadly, mankind will have its dark hours, and none were darker than those in Europe in the 1930s and '40s," Stack continued.

Hundreds turned out under sunny skies and, in a sign of spring, white flower petals continuously flew from the trees on the Benjamin Franklin Parkway as various choirs sang Hebrew and Yiddish songs.  

The ceremony, which marked 70 years since the end of World War II, drew some of the area's dwindling number of survivors to attend the ceremony and symbolically light memorial candles. 

One of the survivors, speaking in Yiddish, mentioned the recent spate of anti-Semitic attacks in Europe and the violence in Israel.

"The recent attacks in Paris and Denmark are proof that we are still not free from anti-Semitism," said Miriam Caine, according to a translation of her remarks. She was born in 1933 in Poland and survived the war in a labor camp in the Soviet Union. She represented the Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors of Philadelphia at the event.

"My friends, we are again facing anti-Semites, radical extremists and religious fanatics who are provoking hate crimes," she continued. "Our brothers and sisters in our beloved Israel are in danger of rockets hitting them. We must do whatever is in our power in order that Israel should be able to live in peace."

Emily Leddington, a junior at Central Bucks South High School and member of NFTY, the Reform Jewish youth movement, also read a reflection on her visit last summer to the Auschwitz-Birkenau Nazi death camp. 

"We should not see the Holocaust only as a tragic event in our history," said Leddington, whose reflections on her trip were printed in the Jewish Exponent, "but as an opportunity to connect with others and ensure that such a tragedy never happens again, so that those who perished in the Holocaust did not die in vain." 

In addition to Stack, Yaron Sideman, the consul general of Israel to the mid-Atlantic region; Naomi Adler, the CEO of Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia; Bernard Newman, Federation president; and Adam Kessler, the director of Jewish Community Relations Council of of Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia, also attended the event, which was sponsored by the Jewish Federation, the JCRC's Memorial Committee for the Six Million Jewish Martrys and the Association of Jewish Holocaust Survivors of Philadelphia. 

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