This year, I will sit at the seder table remembering the seders of my youth shared with my grandparents, parents, siblings, and extended family. Few of these people are still with me today but they are all in my heart. I will be able to think of the wonderful times we had together and the terrible times, including how and when those I have lost died and where they are buried. I can continue to honor them by keeping all of my memories of them alive.
But there are some among us who are not as fortunate as I am. They may have faded memories of beloved relatives around holiday tables but they may not know much more about their lives, having lost them many years ago. They don’t know circumstances of deaths, locations of gravesites, or even when to stand and say Kaddish. And there are many who were lost who have no one to remember them in any personal way. I speak of the many individuals who endured the Holocaust under Hitler’s tyranny, some who survived and many who did not.
On April 12, we will come together as a community to memorialize the victims and honor the survivors of the Holocaust. The Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey will hold its annual Yom Hashoa program at 6:45 p.m. in the Wilkins Theater of Kean University. You need not have a personal connection to the Holocaust to recognize the importance of this event. As our aging survivors become fewer in number, we must take advantage of opportunities to hear their stories and educate ourselves so that the memories and lessons of their experiences never die. One day there will be no one left to answer our questions about the Holocaust, no one to tell us about how he or she sat around a seder table in Eastern Europe or Russia with bubbes and zaydes before being rounded up to suffer atrocities that we can barely allow ourselves to imagine.
I invite you to join us as we share our sorrows and celebrate our victories. Let us recite Kaddish for those we have lost as a strong united community, counting our blessings that we, the Jewish people, are still here, continuing to live as a free people.
Chair, Yom Hashoa Memorial
Vice president, Jewish Federation of Central New Jersey