Event keeps memories alive of Holocaust, its victims and survivors

Gary Weiss of Liberty light menorah Sunday at Holocaust Rembrance Day at JCC.

YOUNGSTOWN — Keeping the memory of the Holocaust alive is essential so future generations never forget what happened to their ancestors in the 1930s and 1940s.

Several speakers at the Holocaust Memorial ceremony at the Jewish Community Center on Sunday expressed this thought amid concerns the Holocaust is becoming less and less part of history books and thus, less familiar to younger generations.

Jesse McClain, a retired teacher and head of the Holocaust Resource Center, said it is not that people are denying the Holocaust, it is that it is receding from memories. He said there is a Never Again Education Act before Congress that will keep the Holocaust in all classrooms. Currently only eight states mandate Holocaust lessons in schools.

“The younger generations do not know as much about the Holocaust as generations before them. There are students that when you say Poland, they think of Poland, Ohio, not the country,” McClain said.

During the ceremony, seven loved ones of those who died in the Holocaust and others lit candles to honor the fallen.

Survivors of the Holcaust were remembered with ligjting of Menorah Sunday at JCC. Family members lit the menorah.

The ceremony, which had the theme “Anti-Semitism in All Its Forms,” also recognized the many contributions of the late Saul Friedman, a Youngstown State University professor and author who was director of Jewish and Holocaust studies at the university.

Chaya Kessler, director of the Jewish studies program at Kent State University, said Friedman during his more than 37 years of teaching was passionate about educating people about the Holocaust.

Dr. Jonathan Friedman, Friedman’s son and professor of Holocaust and Genocide Studies at West Chester (Pa.) University, also worked at the United States Holocaust Museum. He said his father’s lifework and contributions will serve as a source for community members, researchers and students on a wide variety of topics.

Saul Friedman, who died in 2013, wrote 12 books and produced five documentaries on the Holocaust and Jewish issues.

“My father had a passion for teaching and inspired generations of new teachers,” Jonathan Friedman said.

Jesse McClain speaks a Holocaust Remembrance event Sunday at JCC.

Bonnie Burdman of the Jewish Community Relations Council, said Sunday’s event remembered those who perished in the Holocaust and brought families together to also remember survivors.

Rabbi Joseph Schonberger of Temple El Emeth in Liberty said it is important to remember those who perished and continue their legacy.

“The triumphs and lessons of the survivors challenge us to what kind of world we want,” he said.

Schonberger said millenials and many Americans are forgetting that the Holocaust occurred and some do not know what Auschwitz (concentration camp in which the Nazi interred Jews and other non-desirables during World War II) is.

“To remember, to remind others, and to teach everyone the legacy of our families who perished and the survivors. We are not only remembering our loved ones and those who were dear to us, we are trying to live up to their expectations to be decent people and do what we can to contribute to making a decent world,” he said.