Community pauses to recall Shoah


This weekend, the Greater Washington Jewish community will recall the Holocaust at numerous events. On Sunday, Yom Hashoah, or Holocaust Remembrance Day, the Jewish Community Relations Council of Greater Washington will hold its annual communitywide observances in Maryland and Northern Virginia.

Maryland’s Communitywide Commemoration, Sunday from 3 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. at B’nai Israel Congregation. At 3 p.m.,“Unto Every Person There Is a Name,” an annual worldwide name reading program will be held and is coordinated by B’nai B’rith International.

Also at 3 p.m., Montgomery College Foundation’s Portraits of Life Exhibit will be displayed. The exhibit features photographs and personal histories of
Holocaust survivors who witnessed evil, then turned their backs on hatred to tell their stories.

These events will also be accompanied by Community Dor L’Dor Program, at which all members of the community are invited to join local Holocaust survivors to hear their testimony of survival and triumph. Attendees will all come together at 4 p.m. for a communitywide remembrance, including memorial candle lighting; Kaddish; reflection; music; poetry; memorial to the destroyed communities of Europe; a memorial tribute to Herman Taube; and a keynote address by Holocaust survivor Nesse Godin, who has dedicated her life to remembering and telling the world what hatred can do. Sponsored by JCRC of Greater Washington.

The Northern Virginia Holocaust Observance, Sunday from 5 p.m. – 8:30 p.m. at the Jewish Community Center of Northern Virginia. The event will start with a Youth and Adult Art Exhibits and “Unto Every Person There Is a Name,” a reading of names of those who perished in the Holocaust. Next, there will be a seminar titled “On Deaf Ears: Media Coverage and Public Response in the Holocaust Years.” The program will culminate with a Community Commemoration, featuring prayers, interfaith choral and dance pieces, readings, intergenerational candle lighting and Holocaust Mourners’ Kaddish. Sponsored by JCRC, JCCNV and more than two dozen interfaith and nonprofit supporting organizations.

Other events include:

Friday, April 25

The Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals, 8 p.m. at the Washington, D.C. Jewish Community Center. Bet Mishpachah will observe Yom Hashoah erev Shabbat service. Edward Phillips, director of the Division of Exhibitions at the U.S. Holocaust Memorial Museum, will speak on “The Nazi Persecution of Homosexuals 1933-1945.” Phillips was curator of the traveling exhibition by the same name that has been shown in 48 venues in 26 states.

Saturday, April 26

Yom Hashoah Interfaith Memorial Service, 7-9 p.m. at Beth Sholom Temple in Fredericksburg.

Sunday, April 27

Yom Hashoah Garden of the Righteous 2014, 10 a.m. at Adas Israel Congregation. The congregation will honor Alicja Szczepaniak Schnepf and Natalia Szczepaniak, who are the mother and grandmother of the current Polish ambassador, Ryszard Schnepf. They sheltered several Jewish families in their apartment during the Holocaust.

The event will feature a performance from Annapolis Symphony Orchestra concertmaster and lead violinist Netanel Draiblate. Garden of the Righteous is Adas Israel’s series of events honoring “numerous acts of decency and daring performed by many non-Jews in the midst of one of the most tragic moments in human history,” according to the event’s description.

“Life in a Jar,” a one-act play about Irena Sendler and how she helped save 2,500 Jewish children from the Warsaw Ghetto in WWII, will be staged during Temple Beth Ami’s as annual Yom HaShoah commemoration; 7 p.m.

Songs of Spiritual Resistance: A musical journey and tribute to the indomitable spirit of the writers and singers who continued to create music during our people’s darkest hour, 5 p.m. at Ohev Sholom: The National Synagogue. The concert will be performed by Zalmen Mlotek (artistic director of the National Yiddish Theatre-Folksbiene) and his sons Avram (a rabbinical student at Yeshivat Chovevei Torah) and Elisha (a senior at Queens College).

Service of Remembrance, 11 a.m. at Congregation Har Shalom. The joint religious school-congregational event will include speakers, rituals, prayers and tributes to victims and survivors of the Holocaust. Har Shalom’s seventh-grade class, which studies the Holocaust, will help lead the service. Before the service, stop by the seventh grade’s “Living Museum of Memory,” an interactive exhibit created by the class.

Woodside Synagogue’s Annual Yom Hashoah Program, from 7:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. at Woodside Synagogue. The program will feature a screening of the documentary 50 Children: An Ordinary American Couple’s Extraordinary Rescue Mission into the Heart of Nazi Germany. It follows Gilbert and Eleanor Kraus, a Philadelphia Jewish couple who devised a rescue plan to bring a group of 50 Jewish children to the United States out of Vienna. According to The New York Times, the award-winning movie is “heart-wrenching, thrilling, and above all relevant.”

Yom Hashoah Commemoration, from 9 a.m. to 12:15 p.m. at Tifereth Israel Congregation. The day’s programming will begin with a reading of the names of those who perished and a minyan with prayers in remembrance of the Six Million. At 10:15 a.m., the “Celebrating Heroes: Remembering the Liberators” program will begin. Keynote speaker will be Sol Goldstein, a Baltimore native who was a member of the 3rd Infantry Division that liberated Buchenwald on April 11, 1945. The program will also include testimonies of other American Jewish
veterans who participated in liberating the camps.

Yom HaShoah Program and Candle Lighting, 9:30 a.m. at Shaare Tefila Congregation. The two–part event will begin with a film screening, followed by two speakers. Nicky’s Family is an award-winning film about Nicholas Winton, an Englishman who organized the rescue of 669 Czech and Slovak children just before World War II. Winton, who did not share his story for 50 years, was eventually knighted by Queen Elizabeth II and recognized by the United States House of Representatives.

After the movie, attendees will have the chance to hear from Robert Rehak, cultural attaché of the Czech embassy, and Alice Masters, one of the children who was saved by Winton.

Yom HaShoah, Visit with a Survivor, from 6 p.m to 7:30 p.m. at Moishe House Arlington. Ruth Kohen, who lived in Germany and escaped after the start of World War II, will come to talk about her life under the Nazis.

Monday, April 28

A Christian Response to the Holocaust at the Capitol Visitor Center, 6:30 p.m. at the U.S. Capitol Visitor Center, Orientation Theater North. U.S. Delegate Donna Christiensen (D-Virgin Islands) will host an event focusing on James McDonald’s efforts to warn the world of Hitler’s plan and help rescue Jewish refugees. McDonald was later the first U.S. ambassador to Israel. The event will include the debut of A Voice Among the Silent: The Legacy of James G. McDonald, a 53-minute documentary by Shuli Eshel, and a panel discussion.

Yom Hashoah Vigil at Charles E. Smith Jewish Day School. The candlelight vigil, held during school hours Monday and Tuesday, will include a reading of the names of those who perished in the Holocaust. It will be live streamed at

Yom Hashoah v’Hagvurah Commemoration, 7:30 p.m. at Kemp Mill Synagogue. Featured speaker will be Leon Merrick, a long-time resident of Kemp Mill, who survived the Lodz Ghetto, forced labor and concentration camps. Children grade 5 and older are encouraged to attend. Co-sponsored by Kemp Mill Synagogue, Melvin J. Berman Hebrew Academy, Silver Spring Jewish Center and Yeshiva of Greater Washington.

Sunday, May 4

An evening of Courage and Inspiration with Rena Finder, 7 p.m. at the Rockville Hilton. Chabad will be hosting the event at which Rena Finder, who was rescued from the Holocaust by Oskar Schindler, will speak.

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