by Annette van de Kamp-Wright, Jewish Press Editor
The annual Yom HaShoah commemoration will be held April 15, from 7 to 8:30 p.m. at Beth El Synagogue. As every year, the entire community is invited to share in this experience. As a community, we will honor the survivors among us, and honor the memory of the victims of the Shoah.
Under the guidance of chair Janie Murow and Institute for Holocaust Education Director Liz Feldstern, the Yom HaShoah committee has designed a program that includes a presentation by Michael Korenblit, author of Until we Meet Again, the annual candlelighting as well as prayers, various readings and music. Committee members Rabbi Yaakov Weiss and Debbie Kricsfeld selected the readings for this year’s program.
“It has been an honor to chair this committee and work closely with Liz Feldstern,” Janie Murow said.
“This year, we are really trying to build a bridge to the second generation. Having Michael Korenblit speak about that exact topic will, I think, start that conversation.”
“It is important for a community to know its history,” says Beth Israel’s Rabbi Ari Dembitzer. “We need to understand the depth of who we are, and understand the pain of the Holocaust when we were stripped of all joy. When we remember together, we can reach a place of faith and see the chain of history. The Holocaust is part of that history, but so is the birth of the modern State of Israel.”
When Rabbi Dembitzer takes his place on the bima on April 15, clergy from all three synagogues will accompany him. Beth El’s Hazzan Michael Krausman and Temple Israel’s Cantor Wendy Shermet will sing together, and the congregation that night will consist of community members from all three synagogues. On the night of Yom HaShoah, we don’t ask to what shul we belong; we already know the answer.
“It speaks volumes about our community to have the Yom HaShoah commemoration travel between the synagogues,” says Beth El’s Rabbi Steven Abraham.
“This is not a program that one congregation owns; it is a time for our community to come together as one. In Omaha people tend to take it for granted that clergy from all three major movements can sit together on a bima. In many cities and counties across the country, this would never take place. It is a tribute to our community and the importance of the commemoration that we are able to make it work.”
Rabbi Dembitzer agrees: “When we come together on a night like this, it shows that, even though we may have many different opinions, we can be unified in our approach.”
That approach necessarily changes over time, as fewer survivors are among us, and the next generation needs to take on the responsibility of teaching and remembering. Having Michael Korenblit, as a representative of that second generation, speak to our community will be part of that.
“As we approach Yom Hashoah in few weeks,” Rabbi Aryeh Azriel said, “I would like us to honor all those members of our community who kept the Shoah alive in our lives and minds. At times their passion and narrative were rejected and overlooked. They kept pushing and prodding us to keep the subject and the memories alive, not only for our sake, but for our children and grandchildren for generations to come. That is our debt to them and to the survivors.”
For more information about our community event, please contact Liz Feldstern at firstname.lastname@example.org or call 402.334.6575.