Ritual of remembrance

Ritual of remembrance

Many thanks to NJJN reporter Robert Wiener for his excellent article on our Shoah Seder (“Preserving memory with a new tradition,” May 16).

More than 200 people attended the interfaith and intergenerational event May 19 at the Aidekman campus in Whippany; it was sponsored by the Holocaust  Council of  Greater MetroWest and funded by the Darivoff Family Foundation and Admiral Wines.

A combination of ritual and other foods, candlelighting, poetry, PowerPoint presentations, music, wine, singing, and dancing created an amazing experience.

The seder was a “ritual of remembrance and redemption,” ably conducted by Rabbi Len Levin. This first effort flowed beautifully as a result of the  commitment and capabilities of our volunteers, donors, and Jewish Federation of Greater MetroWest NJ staffers. Words cannot express my gratitude to our many dedicated lay leaders and extraordinary volunteers, headed by Gina Lanceter and Lois Lautenberg, and special recognition must go to Mollie Sysler, at 10 our youngest volunteer; federation’s wonderful Sherry Kirschenbaum; and seder coordinator Jamie Carus.

During the seder, people took turns reading from the Holocaust Haggadah I created with the sage advice of Rabbi Levin and Holocaust  survivor and author Gerda Bikales and beautifully designed by Anne Gononsky Zaccardo. Anne also played piano with Terry Virgona and Judith Kessler. Cellist Mitsuko Flynn played a haunting rendition of Bruch’s “Kol Nidrei” and the theme from Schindler’s List to accompany the candlelighting. Michael Rubell and Brian Kalver sang and played folk guitar. Father Marco Pacciano and two seminarians from the Neocatechumenal Way sang and played guitar during “Sh’ma Yisrael” composed by Kiko Arguello. We were truly blessed to have as singers Bielski Brigade partisan Anne Monka, Rebecca Gold, Shelli Brosch, Blossom Primer, and LuEster Wesley. Noga Maliniak and Amir Shacham sang “Eretz Zavat Chalav.”

Eighteen years after the idea for a Shoah Seder was conceived, people, with tears in their eyes, said this must become an annual event.

Barbara Wind
Director, Holocaust Council of Greater MetroWest

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