Holocaust Remembered Here In Annual Memorial Service
By Marsha Sereno
At a time when tensions are high and senseless acts of violence in the Mideast make the headlines daily, community residents, Jews as well as non-Jews, attended a special service at Young Israel of Canarsie Monday evening that was both an annual Holocaust Memorial Service and a salute to Israeli independence.
Young Israel Rabbi Boruch Leibowitz stated, "Precisely this year, due to the events that have unfolded in the Middle East, attending a Holocaust Memorial Program is of the utmost importance, because a good part of the world really would not mind if it happened again. I know that it’s tough to say and that it’s not very nice of me to say, but a good deal of the world wouldn’t mind if it happened again.
"As we always say, ‘NEVER AGAIN! NEVER AGAIN! NEVER AGAIN!’ I think that anyone who has any misgivings about the true intent of the nations of the Middle East, other than Israel, rest assured that if they had their druthers Israel would not exist! ...They’re looking to see Israel in pieces!!
"And so as we sit here this evening and reflect on the various aspects of the program, keep in your heart a prayer not only for the State of Israel, but the people of Israel!"
Rabbi Leibowitz’ stirring speech initiated the evening’s program of readings, prayer, song and reflection. Yeshiva students performed a series of solemn readings in both Hebrew and English to describe the atrocities the Jews suffered at the hands of their Nazi persecutors. One of the youngsters cited how, even on their way to their deaths, the Jews sang of their trust in the Almighty.
The guest speaker was Holocaust survivor Hannah Rigler, director at the Museum of Jewish Heritage in lower Manhattan. The Lithuanian-born Rigler, one of several Holocaust survivors in attendance, shared the miraculous story of her survival. It was a tale not only about an incredible circumstance that saved her from certain death, but also of the atrocities she witnessed.
Other survivors shared black and white photographs that bore witness to the unthinkable evil that is now referred to as the Holocaust.
Candles were lit commemorating the six million Jews who perished at the hands of the Nazis, as well as for Americans currently serving in the armed forces.
Retired Rabbi Norman Zdanowitz, the former spiritual leader of the defunct Remsen Heights Jewish Center, led memorial prayers.
In addition to the poignant remembrance, a joyous moment was celebrated when a special candle was lit to commemorate the 54th anniversary of the founding of the State of Israel. Rabbi Saul Solomon of the Seaview Jewish Center recited a special prayer for Israel.
Bela Havasi, an active member of Young Israel, led the group in Kaddish, the mourners’ prayer.
The evening concluded with the singing of "Hatikvah," Israel’s national anthem.