Holocaust Remembered at Monument for 52nd Year

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The annual Memorial Ceremony for the Six Million Jewish Martyrs honored those who perished in the Holocaust at the monument at 16th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway on April 17.
 

The annual Memorial Ceremony for the Six Million Jewish Martyrs honored those who perished in the Holocaust at the monument at 16th Street and Benjamin Franklin Parkway on April 17.
 
About 500 people attended the event, which has been held by the Jewish Federation of Greater Philadelphia and the Jewish Community Relations Council (JCRC) since 1964.
 
Philadelphia was one of the first American cities to create a monument to memorialize the victims.
 
Representatives from the Jewish community, along with church clergy members and elected officials, joined the stage at the ceremony, showing their support for survivors and Holocaust education.
 
Beth Razin, manager of the Holocaust and Israel Programs for the JCRC and Center for Israel and Overseas at the Jewish Federation, organized the event.
 
“This is very important for our survivors and to honor the people they lost,” she said, “and so it’s really important that we, as younger people, pick up the mantle of remembrance and keep the ceremony going into the future.”
 
Joyce Herstein, who has attended the event for about 40 years, said that even after four decades, she was moved to tears, solemnly wiping her eyes with a tissue under her sunglasses.
 
Although none of her family were in the Holocaust, she joined her friend, Estelle Fleischer, who said all of her father’s family perished. 
 
The program’s attendance has dwindled since its first ceremony, and Fleischer thinks not enough young people are around for these events, a state made all the more urgent by global anti-Semitism.
 
“It’s happening all over,” she added. “It’s happening in all the other countries in Europe — France, Belgium. And people don’t seem to care that they’re watching people die and being persecuted.”
 
Program chair Sarita Gocial chose the songs that Nashirah, The Jewish Chorale of Greater Philadelphia, performed. Each had a different message about the Holocaust. 
 
“I wanted to give everyone a taste of what the music was that was written during the time the Jews were in the ghettos and the camps,” she said. “As a child of survivors. I grew up understanding at an early age that my parents had suffered some terrible things. … I take it as a holy mission for myself.”
 
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