April 30, 2008
Holocaust Remembrance Day
We mark this day in a number of meaningful ways at the Museum. One of the most important elements is bringing survivors to our galleries to talk with students and other visitors. These men and women share their wisdom, strength, and life lessons freely with the understanding that their stories will not be forgotten. As more than one student has told us, reading about the Holocaust cannot compare with talking to a survivor.
Some of our Museum family are artifact donors as well as survivors. When you imagine what men and women had to endure in the camps and on death marches, it is nearly impossible to envision how a birthday card or a child’s toy or eyeglasses could stand as the object that is a metaphor for one’s life. In any other situation these objects might be thrown in a box or worse, thrown away. But in our Museum they illustrate the humanity that would not be extinguished, the hope that would not fade, and the history that cannot be forgotten.
As our friends age a little more each day, we are fortunate that many have taken pen to paper and written their memoirs. While there are common threads that weave in and out of these accounts, I never fail to be amazed at the strength of character, the depth of love, or the sheer number of friends and loved ones who were taken away, but who live on in these books. Our Pickman Museum Shop offers a wealth of memoirs and I hope you will take the time to read through some.
On Friday morning the staff will participate in an intimate candlelighting ceremony. We do this before the Museum opens, without the glare of media. It is a chance to rededicate ourselves to the work of the Museum in our safe space. Six High School Apprentices (interns) are paired with six survivors. Each pair reads a statement and lights a candle. These statements were written by Norbert Friedman, a survivor and long-time member of the Museum family, now living in Florida. When we read these statements together it is as if Norbert is with us in the lobby. Norbert’s words are for anyone to use in a Holocaust commemoration.
CANDLE 1: In memory of the one-and-a-half-million innocent children whose lives were extinguished in the cruelest way, a candle is lit.
CANDLE 2: In memory of parents whose indescribable anguish of separation from their children was exceeded only by the torment of witnessing their murder, a candle is lit.
CANDLE 3: In memory of those saintly sages whose lives were dedicated to the teaching of Torah, and who went to their death with the cry of Sh’ma Yisrael on their lips, a candle is lit.
CANDLE 4: In memory of all the Righteous Among the Nations who risked their lives to save and protect their Jewish brothers and sisters, a candle is lit.
CANDLE 5: In memory of all the brave souls who perished offering physical and spiritual resistance, not in expectation of conquest, but for the honor and glory of the Jewish People, a candle is lit.
CANDLE 6: In memory of all those men, women, and children who have no one else to remember them or say kaddish for them, whose very names have been erased, but whose memory lives on in our hearts and in our thoughts, for them, a candle is lit.